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Title:Current Trends In Library Automation
Author(s):Becker, Joseph
Subject(s):Libraries --Automation
Abstract:The punched card is a remarkable invention which has evolved into a multi -billion dollar industry and has made its impact felt on almost every aspect of our society. The genesis of the punched card can be traced to the man credited with inventing it, Herman Hollerith. In the late 1800' s, Hollerith cut a card to the exact dimensions of the American dollar bill and devised a method for representing a number or a letter in the identical place on each card every time. Although the dollar bill has shrunk, the Hollerith punched card, after a hundred years, has not changed by a millimeter! Because paper is a nonconducting material, it is possible to perform counting operations by passing electric current through the holes in the card. It was this simple idea which helped the United States analyze statistics collected by the 1890 census and which later led to many other applications, including some of interest to libraries. Herman Hollerith's biography in the Dictionary of American Biography relates that the punched card idea was suggested to him by a librarian. Hollerith thus reports the incident in one of his letters: "One evening at Dr. B's tea table he said to me, 'There ought to be a machine for doing the purely mechanical work of tabulating population and similar statistics.'" The "Dr. B" whom Hollerith refers to was Dr. John Shaw Billings, who was then Librarian of the Army Surgeon General's Library and who was destined to become the first Director of the New York Public Library. To this chance remark, Hollerith attributes his inspiration for the development of the punched card. Since it was a librarian who started it all, is it any wonder that Dr. Billings' professional descendants should wish to emulate his foresight by considering possible uses of data processing in libraries?
Issue Date:1966
Publisher:Graduate School of Library Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Citation Info:In H. Goldhor (ed). 1966. Proceedings of the 1966 Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing. Urbana, Il: Graduate School of Library Science: 1-6.
Series/Report:Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing (4th : 1966)
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Publication Status:published or submitted for publication
Rights Information:Copyright owned by Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1966.
Date Available in IDEALS:2007-07-27

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