Monday, January 01, 2007

Punch photograph railroad ticket

Can anyone supply an image showing a 19th century punch photograph railroad ticket (which apparently lead to Herman Hollerith's invention of the punch card for the census that was the forerunner of computers)?

" ... the conductor ... punched out a description of the individual, as light hair, dark eyes, large nose, etc. ... [which] verified that the passenger occupying the seat was in fact the same who had originally presented the ticket."

Punch Photo Ticket


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "De Fazio"
Subject: Rail ticket ...

See, for example, page 150 of Frank Rowsome's Trolley Car Treasury, McGraw-Hill, NYC, 1956.

I'd take issue with the Hollerith cards or system being a forerunner of computers. Punch cards were surely used by IBM and others for data storage and data entry, but computers were already somewhat established before they attracted punch card data entry. Punch card data entry had also been used during the 19th century for data storage and data entry into Jacquard (usually silk) weaving looms.

(Thomas L. De Fazio)

1/04/2007 8:14 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Thanks for the reference.

Starting in the late 19th century, punch cards were used with counters, sorters and later (in the mid-20th century) plugboard controlled electromechanical relay accounting machines for statistical tabulation, and later for business accounting. Commercial transistorized computers and magnetic media storage (drum, disk, or tape) were subsequently developed (by the early 1960's) to take over the information processing and storage functions that had earlier been done by punch card equipment and the punch card holes, respectively. The computational algorithm implemented by the punch card equipment's plugboard (a way to quickly rewire the relays) later came to be represented as the electronic computer's stored program. It is in that data processing and storage sense that punch cards and the associated equipment are the forerunners of computers. (The comment was not intended to refer to the interim use of punch cards for computer input/output, for example, using a separate accounting machine as a printer, prior to the availability of high speed line printers that could be attached to the computer.)

It's fascinated to learn that passenger characteristics punched into railroad tickets inspired Hollerith's invention of the punch card for census tabulation.

1/04/2007 9:11 PM  

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