Virtual Loom

One of the coolest things about the loom is its connection to early computers.  On our loom, up to six pedals can control the lifting of warp strings, in turn controlling the pattern.  Looms which were used to create intricately patterned fabrics had many more control levers.  People operating these complex controls could make mistakes, and an expensive product could be ruined.  During the 18th century, innovators like Bouchon and Jacquard worked on mechanical controls which would raise warp strings based on a predetermined pattern, similar to the preprogrammed notes in a music box.

The holes poked in these cards below controlled the pattern woven on a Jacquard loom.  With the realization that these holes were a way to store information, similar to an alphabet, future innovators went on to store census data and early computer data on similar cards.



Punched cards in use in a Jacquard loom. German Museum of Technology, Berlin CC BY-SA 3.0

Early computers, running on punched cards, paved the way for the computers, phones, and tablets we use today.  Check out the Scratch program below for a time warp back to the origins of computing.

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