Essay on The Effect of the U.S. Census on Computing Technology

Essay on The Effect of the U.S. Census on Computing Technology

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Preface

The demand for computing devices derived from the need to efficiently do calculations and process data. There have been many different factors that have impacted the history of computing but none so importantly as the U.S. Census. The U.S. Census required efficient data processing because of the large numbers and various types of data it dealt with. The U.S. Census was the catalyst for the boom of computing technology. Its effects are still felt till this day.

History of the United States Census

The U.S. Census was initially established as a mandate by the Constitution to determine representation of each state in the House of Representatives in Congress. The first U.S. Census taken was in 1790. A tally system was used to enumerate the population until 1890. This form of manual data processing was far too slow and cumbersome to account for the United States' exploding population. After 1880 the U.S. Census was dealing with a lot more data than earlier censuses because of an influx in immigration and the expansion of the United State's borders. From 1790 to 1880 the census count went from 3.9 to 50.2 million people, respectively. The 1880 census took 9 years to complete. The tally system was inefficacious and took far too long; there were fears the next census would not be completed in less than 10 years(Shelburne). In 1888, the U.S. Census Bureau held a competition to procure a more effective and faster manner of processing census data. Three competitors submitted their designs (Census History Staff). A young engineer by the name of Herman Hollerith swept the competition. His machine, called the Hollerith Electric Tabulating System won the competition by a landslide in terms of the time it took to tabulate all the ...


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...acquard." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Encyclopedia.com, 2004. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. .

O'Connor, J. J., and E. F. Robertson. "Hollerith Biography." Gap-system.org. JOC/EFR, July 1999. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. .

Russo, Mark. "Herman Hollerith: The World's First Statistical Engineer." Rochester History Resources. Rochester University. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. .

Shelburne, Brian J. "The 1890 Census, Hermann Hollerith, and the Origins of IBM." From the U.S. Constitution to IBM. Wittenberg University, 2007. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. .

"Thomas J. Watson." IBM.com. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. .

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