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The Jacquard loom is a loom machine developed in the early 1800s that used a series of punch cards to control weave operations. It is named for Joseph Marie Jacquard, its inventor, and is considered part of the historical chain of progress toward modern computing operations.
Jacquard designed this loom to use a series of punch cards that would correspond to certain hook activities that would raise or lower the loom harness. Operators could change patterns simply by changing the punch cards.
The Jacquard loom predated certain other machines that would eventually lead to the first large mainframe computers such as the ENIAC in the mid-20th century. For example, in 1837, Charles Babbage began to construct his Analytical Engine, which would be thought of as one of the first large mechanical computers using principles such as input and memory. Although he was never able to complete construction of this machine, it is significant that Babbage had planned to use a system of punch cards for inputting data and instructions. Later in the 1800s, Herman Hollerith developed the electromechanical punch card counters which were used in what eventually became the early IBM versions of punch card computer technology.