1961 – Another first for the Census

The 1961 census was the first to use computers to count census information.

The modern system used today to collate census information is a very intelligent computer which scans every page and automatically reads handwriting converting it into computer data, before sorting the information based on what it finds.

However, in 1961 the process was quite different. The results were still processed manually by workers, who first read the form and then typed the information onto punched cards before feeding these into massive machines that would read the information and find any errors. These results were later put onto a huge magnetic drum for printing.

The collation of Scotland’s Census data in 2011 will see another first as Scotland’s householders will be able to complete census questionnaires online. Sophisticated data capture technology will also be used to scan and process returned questionnaires. The online questionnaire is protected by robust security arrangements based on tried and trusted technology which will ensure that everyone’s census records remains private for 100 years after the census.

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