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The Jesuit scholar, Roberto Busa, is often called the founder of humanities computing. In fact, starting as early as 1949, he collaborated with IBM to perform experiments using suites of punched-card machines. These punched-card data systems—with their plug-board setups, clacking machinery, and flurries of perforated rectangular cards—were developed for business accounting and tabulating, and adapted for government censuses, defense calculations, archival management, and information processing of all kinds. The first decade of humanities computing can more accurately be described as an era of humanities data processing—in the historically specific and contextually rich sense of the term. This essay describes an ongoing collabroative project that aims to reverse engineer that center in the attempt to understand better this important site in the history of technology and humanities computing.

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Digital Humanities Quarterly, v. 12, issue 2

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