With the death of Charles Babbage, the Western world, and the entire globe for that matter, had lost one of it’s brightest mathematicians of the era. And sadly, he died without even completing his final work, the Analytical Machine. His failure can be attributed to a number of issues. He was a man born behind his time. Tackling a problem that would be only relevant in the future, the public simply hadn’t been imbibed with enough interest in his final project nor had his sponsors. Further, in an era without the precision and efficiency that would follow his death (in terms of inventions), Babbage simply didn’t have the means to complete his task. His son did however have the means to make his father’s legacy real, and in 1891, a working model of the Analytical Machine was built.
The mid 1800s had been marked with manual processing of data. This was completely different from the beginning of the twentieth century where the machine controlled methods would allow for far superior speeds and in increase in accuracy and precision (due to the removal of a great deal of human error).
By 1889, the American, Herman Hollerith, inspired by Jacquard’s loom punch card machine concept, envisioned the first punch card data processing machine. The machine read the punch cards inserted into without any manual tinkering, almost eradicating errors due to people. These cards could than be stored and stacked as reservoirs of important data, and in effect, become that era’s hard drive. Thanks to Hollerith’s machine, census takers were able to complete the 1890 American Census in less than 2 months (as compared to the under eight years that had been required for the previous census). In effect, his invention led to phenomenal success and saved the American government a load of money that would pave the way for future advances.