JF Ptak Science Books Post 1612
Part of this blog's History of Holes series. (See, for example: An Episode in the History of Holes: Electricity, Punched Cards and the Computer, 1878, here; History of Holes--Filing Holes Up, here. And fifteen others.
I was thinking about holes and hole-making in the history of the art form of compiling statistics, and in the process of accumulating a few images of the machines that actually made the holes in tabulating cards, I found an interesting/unfortunate/depressing illustration. It belonged to the Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft ("Dehomag"), which was the German arm of IBM. (Herman Hollerith created his Tabulating Machine Company in 1896; it was consolidated with the International Recording Company and Computing Scale Company of America into Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) in 1911, and then, in 1924, changed once again into something with the name that we all recognize , International Business Machine (IBM).)
The poster has a very provocative cache, and taken somewhat out of context it might be viewed as dustjacket artwork for Black's book. The all-seeing eye absorbing the information of teh punched card, with the unfortunate, looming, belching smokestack there in the foregoround, reminiscent of the chimneys in the concentration and extermination camps. But this poster was executed around 1925, well ahead of any of those events--the design by serendipity happens to visually support the author Black's assertions. Its just a nasty-looking object.
But it is in the odd, blanket assertions that Black makes above that make it more difficult to give the whole of his work a clearer credence--I'm not saying that there isn't anything there, because, well, there is--for example, IBM continued to do business with the Nazis right up to America's involvement at the end of 1941, 27 months after Hitler invaded Poland. Then again, so too did many other companies (including Ford and Chase as well as Standard Oil), and some of which continued their Nazi business into 1942 (like Brown Brothers), so American-Nazi business relationships weren't actually as rare a thing as it might sound.
[By the way, getting back to hardware for a moment, I feel fairly certain that the Germans would have been using the Hollerith Type IV Tabulator (Type 301, 1928, the first 80-column-card model); and/or the IBM Type 285 Tabulator (1933, a Numeric only machine), and/or the IBM 401 (a 1933, alphanumeric machine) and/or the IBM 405 (a 1934 accounting machine). I guess that Black would list them--I'm not that motivated to read into that book again.]
Of course at the beginning of the European war there was little room for doubt that Hitler was at the very least collecting Jews, and there was some coverage even in 1940 about extermination. And certainly there was no question about the barbaric treatment of the Poles and the plight of Polish Jews at the hands of the Nazis and the Soviets and the Poles themselves. So the story of the beast of Nazism was well known, and well known too before the beginning of the war.. But business like IBM, and Ford, and Chase, and Standard Oil and so on found the situation palatable,m and chose to conduct themselves accordingly. This si also part of the beast of this war when one realizes the extent of the participation of American and allied businesses with the Third Reich. (Thomas Watson, who was head of IBM received the dubious distinction of receiving the high medal of recognition and appreciation, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle (Verdienstorden vom Deutschen Adler) for his role as president of the International Chamber of Commerce in 1937. Watson gave it back once the war began. Others who received this distinction were Henry Ford (1937), Charles Lindbergh (1938), and James Mooney (General Motors' ceo overseas operations (1938). Ford and Lindbergh decided to keep their medals; I don't know about Mooney.)
But Black's book looks slippery and manipulative, which is not good. There is something certainly to the issue of IBM doing business with butchers and monsters, but as to whether they automated the Holocaust--as Edwin Black seems to say--I don't see that the evidence is in.
Getting back now to holes and hole-making, we start off with an early quote from the great hole-maker himself, Herman Hollerith:
"My invention ... comprises a traveling carrier for the card, a series of key-operated punches arranged at right angles to the path in which the carrier moves, so that in any position of the card either the cypher or any of the nine digits may be punched by the operation of the proper key..." Herman Hollerith
The original hole puncher for the Hollerith tabulating machine appeared in this patent application for 1889:
And its further improvement in 1901:
A picture of the 1901 Hollerith Type 001 keypunch:
IBM 026 Keypunch, 082 Sorter and 403 Accounting Machine (c.1950):
-end part I-
1. (All trext and links fo rnote #1 from WIki)
IBM 301 (Type IV) Accounting Machine: From the IBM Archives:
"The 301 (better known as the Type IV) Accounting Machine was the first card-controlled machine to incorporate class selection, automatic subtraction and printing of a net positive or negative balance. Dating to 1928, this machine exemplifies the transition from tabulating to accounting machines. The Type IV could list 100 cards per minute."
IBM 401: From the IBM Archives:
"The 401, introduced in 1933, was an early entry in a long series of IBM alphabetic tabulators and accounting machines. It was developed by a team headed by J. R. Peirce and incorporated significant functions and features invented by A. W. Mills, F. J. Furman and E. J. Rabenda. The 401 added at a speed of 150 cards per minute and listed alphanumerical data at 80 cards per minute."
"Introduced in 1934, the 405 Alphabetical Accounting Machine was the basic bookkeeping and accounting machine marketed by IBM for many years. Important features were expanded adding capacity, greater flexibility of counter grouping,, direct printing of the entire alphabet, direct subtractionand printing of either debit or credit balance from any counter. Commonly called the 405 "tabulator," this machine remained the flagship of IBM's product line until after World War II."