Born in 1888, Clair Lake was an important contributor to IBM's growth in the early decades of the company's existence. For example, he developed and introduced the first Type 1 Total Printing And Listing Tabulator in the early 1920s. This machine became the prototype for many important subsequent improvements. Lake and his staff developed such machines as the Type 512 and 513 high-speed reproducers, and many related technological functions, such as summary punching. Lake served as plant superintendent and senior engineer at IBM's Endicott, N.Y., facility in the 1925-1930 period. George Daly and Ralph Page were his assistants at the time. In addition to his machine inventions, he was responsible for developing the 80-column punched card, related sensing or punching apparatus, low-cost wire contact relays and unit counters. He also developed a telephone key punch used in telephone record keeping.
Lake met Harvard's Howard Aiken in early 1938 and became chief engineer for the ASCC project in May 1939.
Clair Lake died in 1958.