IBM 101

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The IBM 101 Statistical Sorting Machine combines in one unit the functions of sorting, counting, accumulating, balancing, editing, and printing of summaries of facts recorded in IBM cards.

The 101 could sort cards based on multiple columns. For example, if a card had multiple 3-column test scores, the 101 could be wired to sort into pocket 0 those cards with no scores over 090, into pocket 1 those with one score over 090, and so on; logic limited only by the number of relays available.

A. Ross Eckler suggests the development of the 101, with functions similar to earlier multicolumn sorters and unit counters developed by the Census Bureau, was apparently a direct result of the transfer to IBM of Lawrence Wilson who had served as chief of the Census Bureau's Machine Tabulation Division.[1]


The following operations may be performed at the rate of 450 cards per minute:

  • Sort IBM cards in numeric or alphabetic sequence
  • Arrange cards into any desired pattern
  • Check cards for consistency of coded information
  • Check the accuracy of sorting
  • Search files of cards for specific facts or combinations of facts
  • Count cards for as many as 60 different classifications in one run
  • Add two 5-digit amounts punched in IBM cards to accumulate two 8-position totals; or add one 9-digit amount to accumulate a 12-position total
  • Print results in final form on one or two reports of convenient size
  • Print group identification
  • Print a check symbol on each line of the report to indicate that totals printed on the line cross-check
  • Summary punch totals when one or two summary punches are connected to the 101.

The operation of the 101 was directed by the use of a removable control panel.


  1. ^ Eckler, A. Ross (1972) The Bureau of the Census, Praeger, pp114-115

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