|Building Needed||Water-Powered Cloth Mill|
|Leads To||Power Loom|
|Stream||Textile Industry, Industry|
A loom that makes patterned materials thanks to a mechanism which follows instructions coded into a set of holed cards.
Patterns are created in woven cloth by lifting different warp threads as the shuttle passes through the loom. Even on a manual loom intricate designs can be created by lifting threads in the right order, but this relies on the skill of the weaver. The punch-card loom mechanizes the lifting of warp threads. A series of punch cards is drawn through the machine as the cloth is woven; each card has an intricate pattern of holes that allow levers to drop through as the card is "read." The lever trips a mechanism that raises the corresponding warp thread at the right time to create a pattern. Providing the cards are in the correct order and the holes are properly punched, the machine can dependably and repeatably produce any desired design with no need for a master weaver.
Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834) is credited as the father of the punched card loom, although his work draws on machines that used a paper roll for the instructions. The loom cards are direct ancestors of the computer punched card, once the bane of every computer department!