Columbia University Computing History
The Baehne Book
Baehne, George W. (IBM), Practical Applications of the Punched Card
Method in Colleges and Universities, Columbia University Press (1935);
hardbound, 442 pages, 257 figures. Here are some scans:
[ Title Page ]
[ Contents 1 ]
[ Contents 2 ]
[ Contents 3 ]
[ Contents 4 ]
Plates (click on thumbnails to enlarge -- warning, these are large images):
The articles are collected into the following groups, with contributing
institutions listed (see the scanned contents
for greater detail):
- Applications for the Registrar's Office:
- NYU, Iowa State, U of Michigan, U of Texas, U of Oregon.
- Applications in University Business Offices:
- Iowa State, U of Minnesota, NYU. Payroll, tuition and fees,
student loans, inventory, ledgers.
- Miscellaneous Administrative Applications:
- The University Press (U of Chicago), University Hospital Business
Office (U of Michigan), University Extension (Lasalle U), A Central
Tabulating Bureau (U of Michigan), Fraternities (U of Pittsburgh).
- Applications in Psychology and Educational Research
- Ohio State, Columbia, Iowa State, Stanford, Harvard.
- Applications in Medical Research and in Hospitals
- U of Minnesota, U of Chicago, U of Wisconsin, Harvard
- Applications in Legal Research
- Yale, U of California
- Applications in Agricultural Research
- Iowa State, Cornell, U of Tennessee, USDA
- Miscellaneous Research Applications
- Harvard, Columbia, Brooklyn College, U of Illinois, Fisk U.
Plus tutorials in the use the Automatic Multiplying Punch (U of Michigan) and
the Progressive Digit Method (Iowa State).
Columbia Astronomy Professor Wallace Eckert's
article, Astronomy (pp.389-396), is the only one that pushes
the machines beyond the simple tabulation and bookkeeping they were designed
for, and the only article showing any evidence of higher math¹. In fairness,
machines that performed multiplication or division were not yet generally
Eckert, however, had an IBM 601 Multiplying Punch, and
a souped-up one at that. Eckert summarizes the earlier work of L.J. Comrie at the British Nautical Almanac Office on
"earlier machines" and goes on describe the work in progress at his own lab at
Columbia, using "more modern equipment" including an
"auxilliary switch box
for automatically changing the wiring".
Photo:; CLICK to enlarge.
Another interesting article is the one on Anthropology by E.A. Hooton of
Harvard (pictured at left measuring the large head of ...²), in which
a punched-card database recording 125 facts about each of
17,000 criminals from ten states is used to correlate criminal offenses versus
broad sociophysical characterstics such as race and nationality, and detailed
ones such as shape of head, shape of nose, shape and color of eyes, size and
extension of lips, size and shape of ear lobes, color of skin, color and
texture of hair, amount of body hair, "swarthiness", and so on. "The
outcome of the research was a conclusive demonstration that, by taking a
sufficient number of peculiarities of the robber group in combination and
selecting all of the individuals who possessed that combination, it was
possible to pick out a type which was 100 per cent robber. At the same time
it was demonstrated that only one robber out of 414 showed this complete and
exclusive type combination. It was therefore apparent that morphological type
combinations were of no practical use in determining the offenses of
criminals, so far as our particular data was concerned." Thus among the many
other valuable contributions of the punched-card method can be counted the
demise of phrenology and anthropometrics as predictors of human behavior!
One other article, by H.C. Carter of the U of
Michigan, describes the use of a multiplying punch to accumulate sums of
products and squares.
I believe it is the wrestler Tor Johnsson, "The Swedish Angel", who,
coincidentally was managed for a time by a rakish ne'er-do-well Russian
emigre named Mischa who was courting my grandmother when I was a kid...
Most recent update:
Mon Aug 2 17:14:51 2004; reformatted Tue Jun 20 07:31:03 2017
Frank da Cruz / email@example.com /
Columbia University Computing History