Factoids and Snippets about Property Valuation Methods

Herman Hollerith (1860-1929)

In the 21st century processing Big Data and analytics are now part of our lives, but how would you compute even one set of data if your calculator could only add up one string of values at a time? Herman Hollerith, ingenious inventor, started the tabulator industry. He invented an electrical system that could process thousands of transactions in a single run. His system of blanks and holes was basically a binary system. The concept of automated data processing had been born.
In 1880 Hollerith worked for the US Census Office, where they recorded the results by hand. He realised there had to be a quicker way and had a lightbulb moment to store information with holes punched in paper as bus conductors did. His then girlfriend’s dad, suggested a card device to automate the count, like those used for Jacquard looms.

Hollerith got cracking designing a machine that used the completion of an electrical circuit though holes on cards to advance a counter on a dial and tally overall numbers, individual characteristics and even cross-tabulations. He tested his machine in 1887 when the hand-counted 1880 census was finally completed, winning a contract from the Census Office for the 1890 census, which is reputed to have saved the American Government $5 million.

The Hollerith Electric Tabulator - never needed a reboot

That Tabulator was hardwired to operate only on 1890 Census cards. The advantages of the technology were immediately apparent for all sorts of industry, and Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. In 1906 Hollerith made the first step toward the foundation of our modern information processing industry by adding a control panel which allowed it to do different jobs without being rebuilt.

His firm merged with others to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation, renamed International Business Machines in 1924, IBM. It spawned a larger class of devices known as unit record equipment and the whole data processing industry. The term "Super Computing" was first used by the New York World newspaper in 1929 to refer to huge custom-built tabulators IBM made for Columbia University.

After the mechanical computing era waned in the 1960s, punched cards were used for input, but were replaced by magnetic tape, then disks for data storage and manipulation. Punched cards are now almost obsolete but were used in the American elections as recently as 2014.

Herman Hollerith’s designs influenced the computing field for nearly an entire century. He is remembered as one of the founding fathers of modern programming, the father of information processing, and the world’s first statistical engineer.

'IBM's Early Computers', MIT Press (1985) Bashe, Charles J., Lyle R. Johnson, John H. Palmer, Emerson W. Pugh
'A Computer Perspective: Background to the Computer Age' Eames, Charles and Ray,Harvard University Press. 2nd Edition 1990
'The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America' William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) Kindle Edition)
united states census bureau www.earlyofficemuseum.com

Factoids and Snippets about Property Valuation Methods

Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) was the first major economist to consider the techniques of valuing property, and is credited with the creation of Neo Classical Synthesis. If you haven’t heard of it before, well it’s a theoretical way of determining market value by analysing supply and demand separately then combining them.

Back at the very end of the 19th century this was pretty revolutionary stuff. Marshall addressed the question of what influences market price. Most economists were using either Marginal Utility theory, or Classical theory. Put simply, the Classic economists attributed it to cost of production whilst the Marginalists ascribed it to demand. Marshall synthesized the two theories. In addition he put forward the idea of rational consumer choice blended with the law of diminishing marginal utility – ‘the amount demanded increases with a fall in price and decreases with a rise in price.’ Makes sense, eh?

Marshall’s Principles of Economics (1890), was the dominant economic textbook in England for many years. His theories form the starting point of the three traditional forms of valuation that we use today, sales comparison, income and cost. This makes Marshall a forgotten hero of economic theory. His Neoclassical Synthesis theory still forms much of the basis of the conventional approach towards property valuation in current use, including AVMs.

Advances in Automated Valuation Modelling - edited by Maurizio d'Amato & Tom Kauko
Internationales Forum Historische Buerowelt e.V.