Jacquard machine

This portrait of Jacquard was woven in silk on a Jacquard loom and required 24,000 punched cards to create (1839). It was only produced to order. Charles Babbage owned one of these portraits; it inspired him in using perforated cards in his Analytical Engine.[1] It is in the collection of the Science Museum in London, England.[2]
A Jacquard loom showing information punchcards, National Museum of Scotland

The Jacquard machine (French: [ʒakaʁ]) is a device fitted to a loom that simplifies the process of manufacturing textiles with such complex patterns as brocade, damask and matelassé.[3] The resulting ensemble of the loom and Jacquard machine is then called a Jacquard loom. The machine was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1804,[4] based on earlier inventions by the Frenchmen Basile Bouchon (1725), Jean Baptiste Falcon (1728), and Jacques Vaucanson (1740).[5] The machine was controlled by a "chain of cards"; a number of punched cards laced together into a continuous sequence.[6] Multiple rows of holes were punched on each card, with one complete card corresponding to one row of the design. Several such paper cards, which were generally white in color, can be seen in the images below. Chains, like Bouchon's earlier use of paper tape, allowed sequences of any length to be constructed, not limited by the size of a card.

Both the Jacquard process and the necessary loom attachment are named after their inventor. This mechanism is probably one of the most important weaving inventions as Jacquard shedding made possible the automatic production of unlimited varieties of pattern weaving. The term "Jacquard" is not specific or limited to any particular loom, but rather refers to the added control mechanism that automates the patterning. The process can also be used for patterned knitwear and machine-knitted textiles, such as jerseys.[7]

This use of replaceable punched cards to control a sequence of operations is considered an important step in the history of computing hardware.

  1. ^ Hyman, Anthony, ed. Science and Reform: Selected Works of Charles Babbage, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 298.
  2. ^ Delve (2007), p. 99.
  3. ^ "Fabric Glossary". Archived from the original on January 5, 2009. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
  4. ^ Eric Hobsbawm, "The Age of Revolution", (London 1962; repr. 2008), p.45.
  5. ^ C. Razy p.120 (1913)
  6. ^ Newton, William (June 1, 1866). "The London journal of arts and sciences (and repertory of patent inventions)": 334. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Parrillo Chapman, Lisa (2008). Textile Design Engineering Within the Product Shape. pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-1109003987.