|Japan from the Driver's Seat|
Operator's position of a large manually operated antique "piano machine" used to make control cards for the operation of a Jacquard loom. The operator looks at design to be woven into cloth as drawn on a large sheet of graph paper and then creates the punch cards which will mechanically control which warp threads get lifted for each pass of the several shuttles of colored thread.
The long cardboard punch cards are fed into the punching machine between the two wooden guides. The operator has five buttons on the near (thumb) side and eight buttons on the far (finger) side of the device and presses them in various combinations to create the appropriate set of punch holes in the card.
Pressing the buttons moves a metal block across the top of the several vertical rods and forces them down through the cardboard when a foot treadle is operated that moves the whole block downward. Rods not blocked with one of the buttons across the top ride freely and don't puncture the cardboard. Operating the treadle again raises the block and advances the cardboard for the next punching operation.
Thousands of these cards, each painstakingly individually punched, were sewn together along the edges with twine to form a continuous loop. The loop was fed through the head of the Jacquard loom, with each card serving as software telling the loom head which threads to lift for each color of thread to create patterns woven into the cloth.
Needless to say, the advent of computer control was a tremendous boon to the weaving industry.
Presumably the machine received the name Piano Machine from the fact that it required all ten fingers, both feet, and considerable skill to operate it.