The Museum Of Obsolete Legal Tech: Data Storage, Sans Robot

We hope you enjoy this break from our regular non-event program to relive lawyer technology from years and centuries past.

In the first installment, we introduced you to the arithmometer, a forerunner of today’s applications of Artificial Intelligence and Time, Billing & Payments.

Today we’re looking at how a lawyer might have stored data around the turn of the century – long before cutting-edge technologies like cloud-based Practice management or Document storage came about.

We hope you enjoy the tour! And while you’re here drop by the non-event for all your technological needs.

The case

Pfft. That’s not why you went to law school – to be sent on a third-class train to a remote location, Las Vegas, about 1905.

Unfortunately, your customer, an eccentric telephone company CEO, wants to expand their business. They were sent to interview the residents, visitors, and other weirdos who seem to congregate here.

The solution

Library of Congress

Worse still, this customer sent you punch cards – stiff rectangles that you pierce in specific places to register certain information. What the hell?

The technology was invented in 1725 by the French textile worker Basile Bouchon for the loom industry – the punch cards programmed patterns in machines. A few iterations and 150 years later, MIT professor Herman Hollerith came up with a machine-readable version. It is so accurate that the US government used Hollerith’s innovation in the 1890 census.

Now other legal entities have adopted the technology, including your customer, the weird phone tycoon. Well – he’s the customer; You are just a lawyer, what do you know?

The rotation

Computer cards dominated data storage for the majority of the 20thNS Century. This is how IBM began – it was founded in 1911 as The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, with Hollerith as one of the founders. The company changed its name to IBM in 1924 and was so powerful the US government turned to them when it came time to create the early Social Security databases.

IBM’s No. 1 status also led to legal difficulties in 1936 when IBM manufactured punch cards that could only be read by IBM-built machines. Opponents said this monopoly control harmed consumers, and the Supreme Court agreed, ordering IBM to develop more universal technologies.

That small defeat didn’t end IBM’s rule, but punch cards weren’t so lucky: they were slowly but surely being replaced with magnetic tapes that the ancients out there may remember from videotapes.

Awww, isn’t nostalgia fun?

Today’s technology

If you’re an attorney with no management platforms for your data storage needs, you probably spend as much time on organizational tasks as Olympic athletes spend on training. This is why the latest legal tech can be so transformative!

The best platforms for legal practice management streamline a wide variety of tasks including business development, case and matter management, document management, e-signature portals and time and attendance – Everyone in compliance with the highest data security standards.

So do you still store data in punch cards? Then maybe it is time go back to the non-event to see how easy an upgrade can be.

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