Inspired by the punched railway tickets of the time, an inventor by the name of Herman Hollerith devised a system of punched manila cards to store information, and a machine, which he called the Hollerith Machine, to count and sort them. Hollerith was awarded a patent in 1889, and the government adopted the Hollerith Machine for the 1890 census. No one had ever seen anything like it. Wrote one awestruck observer, "The apparatus works as unerringly as the mills of the Gods, but beats them hollow as to speed."
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