As possibly some of you remember early computers had very small human-machine interface and coding programs was done by cards like this one:
or a tape like these:
This invention of controlling machine using punched elements (having gaps or knobs) is older and was used in many cases like for workers' cards used to note their time of work, music boxes etc.
This invention could be made at first in Jacquard loom to control order of threads in different colours to make a pattern.
I'm sure I read also about other common use of this type (with gaps or knobs) of control machine, that was somewhat important in the industrial era, this could not be a steam engine, but I can't remember. What was other use of punched card (or a cylinder maybe) in industry?
(It was not what Wikipedia says:
In the late 19th century, Herman Hollerith took the idea of using punched cards to store information a step further when he created a punched card tabulating machine which was used in the 1890 U.S. Census.
I'm sure it was a large machine)