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Thanks as always to Jane Street, principle sponsor of the stand-up maths
The year 2020 is a census year here in the USA and because the census of 1890
arguably led to our modern computers I thought I have a closer look at how
censuses work and what happened in the 19th century. To help me out I have of
course a friendly American it's a Grant of 3blue1brown fame who's going
to be my reference point for all things American. So in the US you have to have a
census every ten years. It's in the Constitution.
In the Constitution yeah right so it's baked into the country every 10 years you check every one and
why is that. I assumed it's for a house of Representative stuff to choose how
many people are gonna represent each region maybe Thomas Jefferson was
particularly liked data-oriented and could foresee the importance of that but
I have no idea that's great but that's very early on that that's like 1700s we
are doing a census every 10 years yeah the problem was by the time they got to
the 1880 census it took them eight years to analyze all the data and they
realized if they're carried on like that the 1890 census would take more than 10
years so they'd have to do another census before they even finished
analyzing the previous one and because in the Constitution which is famously
hard to change they they didn't have an option so what they did was they took
some of the data from the 1880 census and ran a competition to see who could
analyze it faster it was actually one of the employees of the Census Bureau who
came up with a punch card tabulating machine that did it so we're actually
here this is the Museum of Computer History near San Francisco which is why
Grant has joined me have you been here before maybe two years ago it's been a
while so it'll be as much of a playground for me as it is for you I
think it's been like five years since I was last here so a lot of computing a
second wait a lot of every device from five years ago it's not be any is a good
point so we're gonna see if we can find the original tabulating machine and was
the first punch card machine or were there like punch card machines before
they were punch card machines before that but they were like looms that's
what I thought something associated with weaving
and like making textiles but not for like data processing but I believe that
Hollerith was inspired by train tickets which were also punched they put holes
in to log the person who had the ticket they would they would punch it different
ways Oh anyone who had the ticket and where they
got on with it we have your name as Matt so 'M' 'a' 't' 't' yeah I think almost to the
point of you've got a beard punch the beard bit oh well a game of guess who
but in I don't know people who know more about train tickets can let us know but
I believe Hollerith wasn't inspired by looms who's mired by transportation
tickets and in here they've got a rebuild of the original machine so we're
gonna find that we're gonna check out an IBM machine we're running this afternoon
also punch cards very exciting and I will see if we can spot
I want calculator we own I want to see if they'll run mine you've got an actual
punch card that we're gonna I don't know if they'll let you put that in the
machine unsupervised will let it go please do not bring your own punished
cards there was no rule against it no signs yeah there will be after this okay
so we're gonna head in till we can find
we'll be checking out their ground I'm looking at the sector this is the kind
of slide ruler is that a predecessor to slide rules I sort of like the angst of
this slide rule user that's that's kind of good to know that that's like the
experience of the experts with it not just me I very much like the giant slide
rule which I believe is for extra precision so we found the abacus section
of the museum so where we've gone too early I believe I love this one over
here check this out there's actually a built-in calculator so I don't know if
that's like so you can double check your advocacy on the side that's hilarious
we've been really distracted by mechanical calculators which I think if
anything are too modern for where after I swear we'll get to punch cards in a
second but I've just noticed calculators over here
oh they got like the original HP Brown has discovered a drawer full of oh my
goodness look at these it's got a little professor that is like James Grimes
absolute all-time favorite calculator that's where his nickname came from wait
really the little professor oh that's why I made that out no no he's was a
little professor for very different reasons there it is there it is it so
this is it that is the höllerer happy waving machine any questions do you have
any idea how this worked okay so here's how it works once people had filled out
their census form they were entered into punch cards using this machine over here
this is a kind of like a punch card encoder so people would read the
handwritten notes they would move around this thing to point to the right bit
they want to punch and then up on the arm it was punching holes into a card
and so because you've got these guide holes it made it a lot more accurate oh
so it's like a way of making it bigger for you to just like punch amazing this
is actually a very cool video online of a old lady named bubbles
who as a teenager had to use one of these to do data entry
that's person and they put her in front of one and she's like oh yeah but she
immediately just quit often racing it was incredible
so they would just get all the census data punch it in the punch card the
punch card would then go into this kind of reading device and it looks like some
kind of torture thing with posing needles medieval torture mixed with
steampunk design pretty much so you'd put the card in there you would lower
this press and the needles if there was a hole in the card would go into liquid
mercury underneath and complete a circuit that's hilarious
okay so the only the ones that made it into the mercury would then have current
going along that wire it would then feed into all these dials these dials would
use like a ratchet system so each time they got a bit of current they would
ratchet one over and then you just feed in loads and loads and loads of cards
and once you were done you would read off all the totals from this why are
there like thirty different dials are they counting like the various different
questions that people are asking so all those dials you could set one to
just keep a tally of all the cards which had a particular answer to a particular
question so I say like I live in Montana and it's like the Montana title goes oh
yeah how many people answered that they were a farmer okay and at the end I'll
tell you of all the cards you put through this money said farmer but you
could actually rig some of them to do and statements so if you had a certain
disease and you were a farmer and you lived in a household with someone right
and so some of these would only increment if a combination of needles or
whatever they are made contact it's not technically a computer I guess and it's
doing a I'm just doing an if it's just heard ma'am is that your incomplete I
don't know the models in the future could do adding so this one all you
could do is run loads of cards through and get a tally so at the end of the day
you would have to go through and record all the information off the dials and
then write that down somewhere and then reset it all and start from
scratch the next set of cards we should say by the way that sadly this is a
reproduction this is not the original machine I found one original machine the
Smithsonian have one oh but it's locked away in the to press it's only in vaults
somewhere I asked him we're not allowed to have a girl one thing mmm now the
really cool bit actually is over here this machine on the side so you've got
the main machine which you put the cards in and you do the stamping thing and
then they end up on the Tally's but this this down here that's a sorting box and
so what would happen is each time you put a card in not only would it
increment all the dials that you'd set to record whatever information but one
of these little lids would open and that tells you which one to put the card in
so as well as keeping a tally of the data you were sorting the cards at the
same time further data analysis so that's why there's like this umbilical
cable joining it up and depending on what you've programmed the bins to be
they would open or close and you just bump file it in the right spot what was
the throughput here how many that's people could do incredible number in
fact that number that's on the screen right now that's another number to
answer your previous question about 10 minutes 10 minutes
so they won the competition Hollerith made these for the census they would
have process despite of being a much bigger census they did it in six years
so they brought the time down got all through once Hollerith had built these
and use them for the census they then took them to other countries when hey
you're doing a census - this worked in America chew on it and then they started
to try and sell them to businesses to see if businesses would want to use
these things to analyze their data like insurance companies that kind of thing
hmm so sort of like marketing it as some
kind of business machine yeah some kind of internationally some kind of
international business like machine fascinating
so when holler if made this for the census he was just calling himself
something like the Hollerith electronic tabulating system
he eventually formed a company the tabulating machine company which in 1911
as some of you may know this story merged with a bunch of other very
similar companies because everyone got in on me under crazy I was a real a real
boom everyone a lot of startups in that space they all merged as some of you may
have heard of this they became the computing tabulating system company
something like that it was war words it was really complicated there were a lot
of yeah and then that was renamed to become IBM so that became international
business machine so what I love is all our modern computers or at least IBM can
be tracked directly to this ridiculous device which is crazy I know this is an
ancestor of modern computers Wow incredible so of course there were some
great computers along the way so we're gonna carry on our journey through the
museum and there are your spoiler there's more punch card fun to come this
guy processed thousand cards per minute thousand cards of minutes which is what
a hundred times as much as Hollerith more manual processing my image of the
Hollerith machine is there's just like mercury splash lying everywhere it was
not the era of Health and Safety I think we're gonna see one of these in action
later on so every nice
that is some terrible cable management
money made up yeah they traced the boundary of a region and it tells you
it's area did you see via a differential analyzer
it's basically a way to solve differential equations directly you set
the parameters of whatever equation you wanted to solve and then like draw out
the graph of it that's very cool
this is the drive that got one of these they turn off homeboy that's so huge all
of that for five megabytes that's five pictures right there
somewhere in here there's like a supercomputer they had a bench built
into it I think it was a crayon something you just sit down get comfy
that is terrible cable management is there a subreddit for oddly unsatisfying
first-gen by Claude I had one of those you didn't have like a Palm Pilot
actually we did I never had one personally but we like we dealt with
Palm Pilots in school for some reason this is the future gives you Palm Pilot
well I've got one of those hats the nuclear head yeah I got a pen
noodlerhead okay I definitely had one of those Atari
2600 you know I briefly had the world record
the Space Invaders really on the Atari 2600 powell edition only i just spent a
month playing the game until I broke the
record well done well done thanks
grass just having a go at pac-man here and it's definitely not going to get
competitive okay we've hit home consoles and now is
my time to shine now I should say owned none of these when they first came out
okay but since then I have managed to get Dreamcast yes
satin yes n64 yes mega I get Mega Drive I had when that
came out that's an exception Jaguar can't afford it whatever that is no I
don't what some oh I don't know what the Xbox is but didn't have that I did have
the Speak and Spell though the Apple one well as the original computer for 600
$66.66 ya know was quite cool but the Apple one as you can see Steve Wozniak
assigned the top of it with the walls Oh awesome
of course IBM lived up to their name they continued to build giant machines
internationally internationally produced in businesses yam was a less popular and
they continued for a very long time to keep them punch card based things
advanced a lot more since the 1890s and we're about to see a genuine 1401 punch
card processor sorta what do you call them yeah I don't know a business
machine they forget as punch card process that's it and this one was built
in the 60s we're gonna have a quick look at it now and then in a moment they've
got a public display of it doing what it does sounds good yeah
okay I was just given a very quick tour of this sorting machine whatever clothes
to look at we're also joined by Ben now who has a computing channel link below
so this will sort these punch cards and each column on the punch card has 12
possible values and you choose which column you want to sort and then there
are 12 different bins so each of these bins corresponds to one possible value
and then each time you want to sort for another column you've just got to stack
them back up put them through again how does this work
so through to I is nine and then you've got a subtract line to get this column
I'm not doing that all right I already made a typo that's extremely satisfy all
right there is a top punch in a1 and that B is a top function of two senators
okay okay so that's wrong that's not bad
so this is the IBM 1401 over here the entry stations this is where you would
punch cards that's the only way to get the data into the system once you've
punched your cards you can then use the card sorter over here this will sort
them on any column you want one of the most useful things this was for
apparently is if you drop to your entire box of thousands of punch cards that
make up your program as long as you've used a few columns to have an index
number you can use this to put them back in the correct order and then load them
into the machine using this this is a combination of in and out it's a and oh
this will be able to scan all the cards that is the program all these different
punch cards have different bits of information on it I believe the early
versions of the IBM 1401 you could only use this later ones you could get the
expansion magnetic tape storage so could copy cards onto the tape and then you
got you your program on that with it otherwise you've got to keep re scanning
at my Herron yes so you could go your punch cards you could run them through
this put them on the tape and then when you want to actually do something this
is the color of the CPU so I'll jump round sorry the fast hide over here so
that is the main process of this everything goes into that it's all solid
state so you just get the fellow chips you would put them in apparently you
have to pay more if you want to upgrade to be able to multiply and divide you
get new chips you put them in it cost you extra money and then finally if you
want to get a printout I guess I think you could send stuff back to the punch
card in out job but I believe the main way to put it out was using the printer
over here and this was a very high quality printer for its time and over
there that's a whole nother IBM 1401 they have two copies in here that one
was from Germany where it was hired out to companies and this one was used until
1995 to do invoicing for a country club so everyone's drinks and
everything like spend the country-club we can put on punch cards that'll be
sorted on this machine and then the invoice is sent out
huge thanks to the Computer History Museum for thing has come in run around
do some filming if you're ever in the mountain view area I highly recommend
dropping by and seeing some of the exhibitions they've got going on here I
should also thank the principle sponsor of my channel James Street so actually
if you're into software development and analyzing data Jane Street analyzed all
sorts of data to solve complex problems in the financial world so if you're into
that kind of thing check out James Street they support this channel they're
amazing they mean I can run around and do stuff like this and of course I
should thank Grant over here of three blue one Brown Fame if you're not
already subscribed to his channel what's wrong with you I'll put a link to it
below you've got the we've got the dazzling
sequence we've got the doubling sequence so this is the one they printed out
during the demo and all all your favorite powers of who are in there
somewhere we've got 200 in does it start at one or
two do it starts at two that's it - okay so if one is your favorite power of to
apologize it's not on there so the hey wow I was going to say we will give this
to someone who's watched the video but grants busy destroying it in the wind so
you know we are both going to sign this we will put it on the charity ebay
account for stand up maths so if you would like to have this ridiculous print
out it'll be signed to by us and all the money goes to charity I'll link to that
below so that you are once again thank you so much grant for coming on
super happy to be here thanks for letting me tag along