Most people think of punch cards as a way to clock in and out of work. They were also used to upload operating systems. Like most things, they had a humble beginning that made day-to-day processes easier.
In 1725, a textile worker by the name of Basile Bouchon used punch cards to control looms With this, the loom could read and execute patterns and automate settings. For the first time, a machine used a device to read physical code to execute a processs. Essentially, the punch cards cards served as primative memory cards.
It wasn’t until 1890 when a punch card was used by Herman Hollerith to record and read data from a computer. He used it to complete the 1890 Census in only one year. Before this. the Census of 1880 took eight years.