How Textile Innovations Kick Started Todays Technologies!

By being a field where a constant renovation is the rule, fashion is intimately connected with research, development and innovation. Thinking among this context, we start here in the blog, a series of posts about fashion, trends and technology. The interaction of fashion and technology is not new. Actually, all the technology that surrounds us was inspired by a fabric. The Jacquard fabric was created by Joseph-Marie Jacquard in 1801. This fabric was made in a mechanic loom and it was controlled by punch cards having punched holes, each row of the punch cards corresponded to one row of the design of the fabric.


Fig 1
Jacquard Fabric with different designs

With this loom the idea for the fabrication of the Jacquard was very simple. The loom was automatic, and in order to know what it supposed to do, it reads a punched card. During the production, the yarn could be showing on top or on the bottom of the fabric. In the places where the bottom yarn should be in the top, in order for the fabric to get the specific desired design, the punched card had a hole. Where there was no hole, the bottom yarn just stayed there, on the bottom. This is acknowledged as the first modern binary processor of information.


Fig 2

Jacquard’s loom and punched cards

In 1833, Charles Babbage invented the Analytical Engine. This was considered the first general purposes programmable computer. Based on the Jacquard loom technology, Charles created a binary system to program the engine to do what was requested. This engine made Babbage become recognised, until today, as the father of computers.


Fig 3

Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine

The creation of the punched cards loom by Jacquard is recognised as a very important contribution to mankind because of the influence it had over the developers of computational systems. Until today, all computational system is based on the binary code like the one the punched cards had on the Jacquard’s loom.

Marculescu, D., Marculescu, R., Zamora, N. H., Stanley Marbell, P., Khosla, P. K., Park, S., … Nakad, Z. (2003). Electronic textiles: a platform for pervasive computing. Proceedings of the IEEE, 91(12), 1995–2018. doi:10.1109/JPROC.2003.819612 … 01732.aspx … chive.html … abbage.htm

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