The Jaquard Loom at CMoA

YOU ARE HERE!  You are looking at the start of computing.  And the punch card.

Joseph-Marie Jacquard changed the face of weaving (and computing) in 1804 by using punch cards to program complex woven designs that before could only be created by a master weaver. Being able to use unskilled labor to craft such designs drove down the cost of production and brought new and beautiful textiles to people who once before could not afford it.

The Jaquard Loom inspired Charles Babbage’s idea for the Analytical Engine designed to use punched cards to feed mathematical numbers into a machine. Ada Lovelace observed, “The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”  She is credited with writing the first computer program for the Analytical Engine.

In addition to this beautiful artifact, you see a picture of Mr. Jacquard that was woven on one of his looms with silk thread. The detail is incredibly intricate and from a short distance one might think it is a pencil drawing.  This woven silk portrait of the inventor is based on a painting by Claude Bonnefond (1796–1860) that was commissioned by the city of Lyon in 1831.


The videos below provide the detail and use of the Jaquard Loom.  Enjoy!