Binary Textiles

Textiles and computers have a long relationship. Punched cards were first used around 1725 by Basile Bouchon and Jean-Baptiste Falcon as a more robust form of the perforated paper rolls then in use for controlling textile looms in France.The invention of the Jacquard loom by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801 is said to be the ancestor of computers. This because of it’s capability to programme a pattern using punched hole cards with a binary system of hole, no hole or 0 and 1.



1832 Semen Korsakov was the first to use the punched cards in informatics for information store and search.


Charles Babbage and his assistant Ada Lovelace created the basis of modern computing: a memory and a programmable calculator called the Analytical Engine. Babbage got the idea from the jacquard loom to use the punched hole cards to create a machine that would read of a set of sequential instructions. Ada Lovelace who published in her notes what is recognized as the first algorithm and described in 1842 : «The analytical engine, she said, will weave algebraic patterns like jacquard looms weave flowers and leaves”.

In 1896, Herman Hollerith invented the recording of data on a medium that could then be read by a machine. IBM manufactured and marketed a variety of unit record machines for creating, sorting, and tabulating punched cards, even after expanding into electronic computers in the late 1950s. IBM developed punched card technology into a powerful tool for business data-processing


I found this very nice card punch generator if you want to try:

Punched hole cards are still used today to create musical scores for street organs, mechanical pianos and musical boxes. Some are on rolls of paper and others on cylindrical tubes where either the musical score is engraved or stapled on wood tubes. Some are also made on a copper disc.




serigraphie rouleauimmmagesThe cylindrical tubes have always made me thought about  the ones used in textile to print patterns for meters.

Punched hole cards are also still used on home knitting machines where you can programme a pattern for jacquard knitting.  The holes will push your needles in a certain position so that you can knit your  pattern with a coloured yarn and when their is no hole you can knit the background of the pattern with another coloured yarn.



In places like in the North of France, you can also still find mechanical lace looms who still use punched hole cards to create intricate lace patterns.


metier dentelle

Textiles have always been a mathematical construction to create it’s structure (weaving, knitting..) and also in it’s designing for patterns. Throughout researches  I have found surprising links with things used for computer programming where patterns are often used to visualize generated algorithms.


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