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Jacquard introducing Napoleon to his newly-invented loom.

The Jacquard Loom
Perforated cards, tied together to become long, endless rolls had been used by Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752-1834) as a component of the automatic weaving machines that he introduced in France and then in Europe generally at the start of the 19th century. This invention clearly delineated perforated patterns as a means of storing machine-readable data, and it is interesting to note how closely a Jacquard weaving shop from the 1850s resembles a row of music roll perforating machines from 1911.

A Jacquard Loom workshop - Germany, 1858.

Aeolian Company roll perforating machines - London, England, 1911.

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Making the Perforations
In these early days, cards were simply punched out by hand, using only simple machinery as a means of placing the perforations accurately. Similarities with the player piano industry can again be found: the nineteenth-century workmen punching out cards for the Jacquard looms are not far removed from La Perforeuse, the lady copying piano rolls by hand, just a few months before the First World War.

Perforating Jacquard cards - England, mid-19th century.

Perforating Pleyela master rolls - Paris, 1914.

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Website Links and Other Sources of Information

Deutsches Museum, Munich - Good general article in English, with illustrations.

Columbia University - Part of Columbia University Computing History, with a very detailed photograph of a working loom.

University of Rochester - Short page on Jacquard looms, as part of a discussion of Hollerith punched card machines.

Conservatoire des Vieux Métiers du Textile - Complete website on the history of weaving, in French and English.

Rex Lawson - De Fabricage van Muziekrollen, in Pianola's, Nederlandse Pianola Vereniging, Baarn, Netherlands, 1981, pp. 80 - 91.

P. des Fontenelles - La Vogue des Pianos Automatiques, in Je Sais Tout, Pierre Lafitte et Cie, Paris, France, March 1914, vol. 110, pp. 409 - 422.

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