Workers at Jacquard looms, textile factory, 1844

Victorian illustration to download showing a picture of women and a boy working in the Jacquard weaving room in a textile factory, 1844. The large room is filled with rows of looms worked by axles near the ceiling powered by steam. Above each loom is suspended the Jacquard mechanism: punched cards, as many cards as there are weft threads, joined to form a continuous chain. A hook at each position on the card can be raised or stopped dependant on whether the card is punched or solid; the hook thus raises or lowers the warp thread, allowing the weft thread to pass through and create the pattern. This scene was sketched at Akroyd’s worsted factory, Halifax. The Jacquard mechanism allowed complex patterns to be woven more quickly and easily. It is important in the history of computing: Charles Babbage was inspired by it to use punched cards in his analytical engine.