|Jacquard Loom Punch Cards, by Lars Olaussen|
Punched cards such as these bear a close resemblance to what we today consider "machine code". They are in essence a sequence of instructions in a language that can be directly executed by a machine. They're not terribly easy for humans to understand. Modern computer programming uses higher-level languages, which are then translated into machine code. An example of a higher-level language is the Logo language I discussed earlier.
Wired Magazine has an interesting story on the Jacquard loom and its place in history.
Update: Here's a link to a BBC story I had been trying to find earlier about the lace industry in UK and their use of Jacquard looms to this day.