The creation of Jacquard cards to control the weave sequence on a textile loom was a multi-step process. A crucial piece of this process involved the use of the Piano Punching Machine, which is our object of the month. It encoded the fabric design into stacks of cards by perforating each card with holes. The operator observed a “reading board” holding an illustrated design pattern for the finished product that was drawn on a graph-like grid called point paper.

The operator would program the design by depressing keys (which gave the machine its name ‘piano’) on the “punching head”. The operator then activated or deactivated the mechanism for punching holes by stepping on one of the two pedals below.

The jacquard control process anticipated the invention of data processing by more than a century.