"to put into form of a table, collect or arrange in columns," 1734, from Latin tabula (see table (n.)) + -ate (2). Earlier in the more literal Latin sense "lay a floor" (1650s). Related: Tabulated; tabulating.
1961, shortened form of tablet (especially one of sugar containing LSD). As an abbreviation of tabloid (newspaper) it is 1990s slang. As a short form of tabulatorkey of a typewriter (later computer) it is recorded from 1916.
<a href="https://www.etymonline.com/word/tabulator">Etymology of tabulator by etymonline</a>
Harper, D. (n.d.). Etymology of tabulator. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved $(datetime), from https://www.etymonline.com/word/tabulator