Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stumbling Onto Hallowed Ground

This weekend, we met up with a friend in DC. While Shira and her were chit-chatting, I noticed a plaque on the nearby wall:

It marked the location where Herman Hollerith perfected and produced punch card tabulating machine technology. This contribution makes him (in my book, anyway) one of the founding fathers of programming. Without his work, I may not have a job today.

Herman is responsible for the powering the 1890 census, managing to complete it in 1 year instead of the 8 that the 1880 census took. That means that he's one of the first programmers to walk into his boss's office and blow him away by delivering a computer project early! What a thrill that must have been. Maybe we'll pull off such a feat again some day.

Seriously, providing that kind of optimization must have been beyond the imagination of most people. That's one of my favorite parts of my job: getting to work a miracle every now and again.

Update: As Nick so kindly pointed out, it sure would be nice if I had mentioned the location of the plaque. Here it is:

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That's 1054 31st Street, Washington DC.