Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Paper Machines – About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929 - MIT Press Scholarship Online
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Paper Machines: About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929

Markus Krajewski


Today on almost every desk in every office sits a computer. Eighty years ago, desktops were equipped with a nonelectronic data processing machine: a card file. This book traces the evolution of this proto-computer of rearrangeable parts (file cards) that became ubiquitous in offices between the world wars. The story begins with Konrad Gessner, a sixteenth-century Swiss polymath who described a new method of processing data: to cut up a sheet of handwritten notes into slips of paper, with one fact or topic per slip, and arrange as desired. In the late eighteenth century, the card catalog became ... More

Keywords: card file, proto-computer, rearrangeable parts, offices, Konrad Gessner, processing data, handwritten notes, slips of paper, card catalog, librarian

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780262015899
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262015899.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Markus Krajewski, author