Joseph-Marie Jacquard was born in 1752 in Lyon, France. He is best known for his creation of the programmable
an invention which forever changed the weaving industry in the world as well as inspired the technology of
punch cards, the first practical use of the binary system which in turn led to the development of the computer.
Jacquard was brought into the weaving trade at a very young age. Both of his parents were involved in the weaving
industry and got young Joseph a job as a
when he was ten years old. This repetitive and very unpleasant job
served as an incentive for Jacquard to invent some sort of machine that could render the job of a draw-boy obsolete.
In 1790 he conceived the idea for his automatic loom but his work was interrupted by his involvement in the French
In his loom a series of connected
cards were passed over needles pressed against the card. Whenever a hole
came up the needle would go through the hole activating the threading mechanism. The pattern of holes on the cards
determined the pattern that would be produced on the resulting textile. He completed his loom in 1801 and in 1803 he
was summoned to Paris where he was awarded for his loom and also received a lifetime pension from Napoleon.
However, his loom was not so revered by master weavers for they believed their jobs would become obsolete since
complicated weaving could now be done by less skilled weavers. In protest many weavers destroyed numerous Jacquard
looms and even threatened to kill him. In spite of this opposition the Jacquard loom gained widespread use throughout
France. By 1812 there were 11 000 looms in use.
The Jacquard loom greatly increased productivity and reduced the cost for textile making since the machine diminished
human error and the knowledge of an expert weaver could be stored on paper, ready for anyone to use. Today looms of
similar design are used for weaving and the same system of binary on and off coding is used in today's computers.