Joseph Marie Jacquard

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The Inspiration for Charles Babbage's 1871, "Analytical Engine."
The Jacquard mechanism of digital control and digital imaging in the weaving industry

On Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine
The distinctive characteristic of the Analytical Engine, and that which has rendered it possible to endow mechanism with such extensive faculties as bid fair to make this engine the executive right-hand of abstract algebra, is the introduction into it of the principle which Jacquard devised for regulating, by means of punched cards, the most complicated patterns in the fabrication of brocaded stuffs. It is in this that the distinction between the two engines lies. Nothing of the sort exists in the Difference Engine. We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves.
(Notes of Ada Lovelace, quoted in Essinger, pp. 140-141.)

"A LA MÉMOIRE DE J.M. JACQUARD. Ne a Lyon le 7 Juillet 1752. Mort le 7 Aout 1834."
Portrait purchased by Charles Babbage for 200 Francs on 8 Sept 1840 (about $4000 today).

Date unknown.
A woven postcard.

By M. Carquillat 1844
"Visite de Mr. Le Duc d'Aumale al la Croix-Rousse,
dans l'atelier de M. Carquillat, le 23 Aout 1851"
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Jacquard is credited with combining a number of pre-existing inventions into an efficient and reliable mechanism for weaving complex patterns. The punched card was a crucial step towards separating the "information" of which warp threads to lift to form the shed, from the "power" required to lift them. Thus began the trend of increasing the ratio of bits per gram of storage medium (or bits per unit energy).
Keystone Stereoview
Keystone Stereoview, "90932-(8): Weaving the Linen Fabric - Linen Industry, Canada." Chains of thousands of punched cards, hanging above the looms, direct the patterned weaving process.

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Jacquard Mechanisms for Pattern Weaving
The perforated paper roll was introduced to the textile industry by Bouchon in 1725 to control the patterns woven on a loom.
In 1728 Falcon pioneered in developing a chain of punched cards laced together by string.
The pattern loom was finally perfected in 1801 by Joseph Jacquard of Lyon, France who received an award for his innovations at the Paris Exposition.

This Halton Jacquard mechanism from the 1920s (above) was used to weave the contemporary "Coquette" label (top-right) from a massive chain of punched cards (bottom right). There are 216 holes per card. The label is 21.6mm wide. The thread count is 10 per millimeter. Gift of the Pittsfield Weaving Company.

Monuments, Museums and Artisans Keeping the Technology Alive

The world's largest monument to the Hollerith punched card:

Formerly the IBM Research Center in West Los Angeles.
Now the Otis Art Institute.


Jacquard Looms in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, France.
(Photos to come...)

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Working Jacquard Looms in the Suzhou No.1 Silk Factory Co, Ltd.

A Variety of Punched Cards, Rolls & Tapes Used in Data Processing.

Three perforated Jacquard cards. One of many card formats.

Section of a contemporary perforated Jacquard paper roll.

Rand 90 Column Data Processing Card

IBM 80 Column
Data Processing Card

IBM 96 Column
Data Processing Card

A Demonstration Deck by Copechat Paramount.
An Edge-Punched Card System for Data Storage and Retreival

A Demonstration Single Card from an Unidentified Data Storage and Retreival System.
Please email me if you have any further information: nick/gessler//

McBee Keysort System
for data storage and retreival


Some Contemporary Jacquard Mechanisms.
Grosse "electronic" (electromagnetic) Jacquard.

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AVL pneumatic Jacquard.

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Staubli 1000 stepper-motor Jacquard.

Staubli 1000 stepper-motor Jacquard.

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