The Jacquard Mechanism and Punched Paper Automation

In this four part series, to complement the loom restoration work at Paradise Mill, we discover the remarkable history of the Jacquard mechanism; its origins, innovation, influence and legacy.


Our modern-day digital technologies and computer systems can trace their origins back to the invention of the Jacquard mechanism and the influence it had upon the pioneers of computing.

Macclesfield Museums has the largest known collection of Jacquard handlooms in Europe, still housed in their original location at Paradise Mill.


Jacquard. The word has come to mean a fabric with the design incorporated into the weave.

That fabric actually takes its name from the mechanism on top of the loom that creates the woven design.


Holes in card. Exciting? Entertaining? Revolutionary? Invaluable? Influential?

Maybe not the first thoughts that spring to mind. But, read on to discover the huge influence those holes have played in the development of technology that we take for granted in our modern, everyday lives.


Do you use a computer or rely on any digital technology? Yes, thank those holes in card again! This is the enduring legacy of the Jacquard mechanism and punch cards.

Codebreaking during the Second World War played a key role in furthering the development of modern computing. Punch cards and punched paper tape were invaluable to the code breaking process at Bletchley Park.

A music box tribute to the Jacquard mechanism and punched paper automation

A punched paper music box tribute to Joseph Marie Jacquard and the history and influence of punched paper automation.