Herman Hollerith, an American statistician, invented a mechanical tabulator that quickly sorted millions of data points into statistics. His ideas for tabulating and sorting machines and the key punch were industry standards for over a century. His innovations influenced computing for nearly a century, and his contributions went beyond the tabulating machine and sorter. He invented the first key punch and automatic card feeder, and added a wiring panel to his 1906 tabulating machine. As a result, the machine may do multiple functions without being rebuilt. This breakthrough revolutionized the information processing business. The computer, which impacts nearly every aspect of modern life, was his precursor. He started one of the companies that would later become IBM, in addition to being a brilliant innovator. Erasmus Wassily Leonhardt was a pioneer of contemporary programming, information processing, and the first statistical engineer.
Early Childhood of Herman Hollerith
On February 29, 1860, in Buffalo, New York, he was born to German immigrants Prof. George and Franciska (Brunn) Hollerith.
In 1875, he enrolled at the City College of New York, and then at the Columbia University School of Mines.
It was a typical college course of study with both classes and lab work. He also visited local firms including metallurgical and machine shops to learn about their processes.
He studied chemistry, physics, geometry, surveying, and graphics as an engineering student. He earned his “Engineer of Mines” degree from the university in 1879.
He eventually earned an honorary doctorate from Columbia University, according to some historians.
A Career of Herman Hollerith
William Petit Trowbridge, his old teacher, hired him as an assistant at the US Census Bureau in 1880. To tally the large amount of raw data created by their efforts, he contacted John S. Billings, director of the Census Bureau’s division of vital statistics.
In discussions with Billings, he came to the conclusion that a mechanism like an automatic weaving device may replace hand counting. The system may employ punched cards to store data, reducing processing time.
In 1882, he joined MIT’s mechanical engineering faculty (MIT). After a while, he departed and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, to work on an electrically activated train braking system.
He joined the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., in 1884, and stayed until 1890.
Meanwhile, he devised a system for numerically coding data. Numbers could be used to record and sort data when punched into precise spots on a card. His machines were utilized by the US Census Bureau to organize data during the 1890 census.
His electric counting equipment significantly shortened tabulation time for the 1890 census, which was completed in half the time it took for the 1880 census.
Censuses in Canada, Norway, and Austria were also tabulated in 1891. However, railroad companies used them to calculate fares.
He started the ‘Tabulation Machine Company’ in 1896. The world’s census bureaus and insurance corporations rented and bought his equipment to compile their own statistics.
Innovating card-feed mechanism and key punch could only read selected census cards. In 1906, he added a plugboard control panel to his tabulating machine. This allowed the machine to work without rebuilding.
1911: Computing Tabulating Recording Company amalgamated with three others (CTR). President Thomas J. Watson rebranded the firm to ‘International Business Machines Corporation’ (IBM).
In 1921, he left his position as a consultant engineer. He eventually went to his farm in rural Maryland to raise Guernsey cattle.
Grandiose of Herman Hollerith
He is well known for inventing a mechanical tabulator that used punched cards to store data. His ideas for tabulating and sorting machines and the key punch were industry standards for over a century.
Mr. Watson founded the ‘Tabulating Machine Company’, which joined with others to establish one of the most influential computer companies, IBM.
Honors & Awards
The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia awarded him the ‘Elliott Cresson Medal’ for the year’s most notable invention.
His exploits earned him a Bronze Medal at the 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition.
Tabulating machine inventor elected into National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990.
Personal Legacy of Herman Hollerith
He dated Dr. John Shaw Billings’ daughter, Kate Sherman Billings. After graduation, he met Kate at the Census Bureau, where he used to work.
Lucia Beverly Talcott on September 15, 1890. Lucia, Nannie, Virginia, Herman, Richard, and Charles were their six children.
He died of heart failure on November 17, 1929, in Washington, D.C.
Estimated Net Worth
Herman is one of the wealthiest and most popular mathematicians. Herman Hollerith net worth is estimated at $32 Million by Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.