JACQUARD, Joseph Marie (1752-1834). "Notice sur les inventions, et perfectionnement introduit dans l'industrie de Lyon par Joseph Jacquard depuis le 1 janvier 1809, jusqua'a ce jour." Manuscript signed [Lyons, ca. 1809-10]. 2½ pages.
An unpublished manuscript on the Jacquard loom by Jacquard that is especially important because Jacquard never appears to have published anything on this invention. Born into a Lyonnese family of weavers, Jacquard was inspired by Vaucanson's punched-card loom to invent the Jacquard attachment, which caused any loom that used it to be called a Jacquard loom. The attachment was an automatic device that for the first time allowed a single operator to control from the loom all the movements involved in the production of complex woven patterns. The Jacquard loom reduced the amount of redundant manual labor that had previously been required in weaving, lowering labor and manufacturing costs and reducing physical hardship for the textile workers. It served as the catalyst for the technological revolution of the textile industry in the nineteenth century.
Jacquard developed the idea for his invention in 1790, but because of the French Revolution did not exhibit it until 1801. Jacquard was granted a patent for his invention in 1803; in 1806 his loom was declared public property, and Jacquard was awarded a pension and royalties on each machine sold. Under the terms of Jacquard's pension he was required to introduce his technology to the textile industry of Lyons. During his first efforts, workers rioted out of fear of losing their jobs to the new technology, and at one point Jacquard had to flee for his life. However, he persevered and by the year 1812 there were eleven thousand Jacquard looms operating in France. By the time of Jacquard's death in 1834, twenty thousand Jacquard looms were installed in the Lyons region alone.
Jacquard's invention made use of a punched-card system for storing and generating patterns. In the production of designs different cards were tied together by ribbons and hundreds of cards could be used in elaborate designs. Charles Babbage later incorporated punched-card technology as a method of data and program input in the design of his Analytical Engine. Even though the Analytical Engine was never constructed, Babbage's application of Jacquard punched card technology connected the Jacquard loom in the history of computing. The technology of punched cards was applied in data processing many years later, for use in the United States Census of 1890, when Herman Hollerith developed electrical machines for tabulating data stored on punched cards. Hollerith's company eventually evolved into IBM. Punched-card tabulation remained a primary means of data processing until it was phased out around 1960.
Jacquard composed the document catalogued here in response to an imperial edict by which artisans could petition the government for compensation for significant services rendered since January 1, 1809. The document cites Jacquard's "difficult and complicated study of all the different types of cloths" undertaken in 1809, in which he used his loom to prove that different types of cloth "have the same principles" and could be woven on a single machine. This demonstrated the universality of the Jacquard loom's applications to textiles. The manuscript also describes the enormous benefits to the weaving industry that the introduction of his loom had made possible: "By the use of this machine that bears my name, one no longer needed the quantity of tools for complicated separate attachments that tended to require constant adjustment, making the work hard and tedious. This great number of steps crippled the workers, especially deforming their legs ... [In my machine] one pedal replaced the wool-puller and an infinite number of ropes, which caused a great loss of time each time one wanted to renew a design or change the position of the fabric ... "In order to prepare the loom, it used to be necessary to call outside people to the shop, such as the preparer, the resetter, the pattern smoother, the wool spinner, and often the fitter of the loom. All of these workers that one feeds and pays handsomely would often find themselves waiting instead of being otherwise occupied. This resulted in a large detriment to the shop owner because during these intervals the worker and the puller, whose work had been disrupted, remained with nothing to do.
"The machine that I created is simple, costs virtually nothing to maintain, and only requires being kept clean, protected from rust and dust ... The worker no longer loses time in setting up his loom. One gives him the completed design [on the punched cards], and he has only to throw it onto the frame of the machine, he gets to work, and his job that was so very tedious before is now so easy that it can be executed by women, in fact one sees a very large number in the shops these days, when there were virtually none before the invention of my machine. This is not all: the fabric is created with speed and perfection, the designs go with the warp of the thread, and the outlines are imperceptible and blended, like in painting. Problems with the reading [of the cards] are easy to repair; missing holes or ones made by others are imperceptible. This is not like the older looms, where a thread that is broken, sticking out, or badly woven into the semple, auramsrams, or in the arcadescades caused grave errors that spread throughout the design and were difficult to repair. Fabrication is not only more correct, it is quicker. This is why such fabric that used to cost 3 francs an ell now costs 18 or 20 sous."
When OOC was written, no publications or manuscripts by Jacquard were cited in OCLC or RLIN or in any of the printed references we consulted. OOC 328.
[With:] JACQUARD. Engraved portrait by E. Conquy after Bonnefond. N.p, 1834. 248 x 167 mm. The portrait appears to be a partial reproduction of Jacquard's famous portrait in silk, woven on a Jacquard loom. OOC 329.