Punch bands were a simple way of storing a textile “program”, developed by Basile Bouchon in 1725. Possibly inspired by his father’s work as an organ maker, holes in the band or tape would affect whether the needles in a loom were raised or lowered, which made it simpler to set up the drawlooms of the time. Bouchon’s assistant Jean-Baptiste Falcon subsequently refined the technique, turning the band into rectangular cards joined together into a loop, presaging both piano rolls that would be developed in the 19th century and the punch cards that would enable complete automation of textile weaver.
Relation to Computing:
Although textile manufacture was not the first application of mechanisms to simplify or automate tiresome and error-prone human actions (calculating machines and automated personal attendants having both been experimented with for hundreds of years), the rapid evolution of reprogrammable machines and their application to the textile industry resulted in practical and simple techniques for storing information that would underpin the development of computing technology from the mid eighteen century.
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