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Data is a hugely profitable commodity - if you know how to process it. Tim Harford tells the story of Herman Hollerith, and how his 19th-century machine for processing census data laid the foundations for some of the world's most valuable companies.

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10 minutes

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Mon 9 Dec 2019 04:50GMT


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Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Giant of Information Processing. Geoffrey D. Austrian, 1982. Columbia University Press, New York

Census in the Constitution

The Control Revolution: Technical and Economic Origins of the Information Society. James R Beniger, 1986. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. P 408, P 409, P 412, P 416 and P 420 - 421

The Creation and Destruction of the 1890 Federal Census. Robert L. Dorman. The American Archivist, Vol. 71 (Fall/Winter 2008): 350–383

Statistics & German State 1900-1945: The Making of Modern Economic Knowledge, 2008, Adam Tooze. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation. Edwin Black. 2001. Dialog Press, Washington DC.






Image credit

The Hollerith 070 electric Vertical Sorting Machine of 1908 (Credit: Paul Thompson/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)