[ Retro Scan of the Week ] NCSU Computer Punch Card

February 25th, 2008 by Benj Edwards

NCSU Computer Punch Card

I found this wonderfully stamped card in an old, metal, 20-drawer punch card filing cabinet that I bought from a N.C. State University surplus sale late last year. Actually, it was one of many hundreds of such cards, most of which were rubber-banded together in program stacks for the psychology department.

I’m no expert on punch card-era computers, so I’ll let the more knowledgeable amongst us do the talking. It’s a great piece of history, though. I’m currently using the card cabinet as a tool chest.

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7 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] NCSU Computer Punch Card”

  1. Layne Says:

    I’d be interested in someone converting 962123.0121. etc. into code type syntax (ASM, pseudo-code, BASIC, C, whatever)….unless that just represented data of some sort.

    Layne

  2. Scott Says:

    Reminds me of the old Stan Rogers song.

    THE WHITE COLLAR HOLLER

    Well, I rise up every morning at a quarter to eight
    Some woman who’s my wife tells me not to be late
    I kiss the kids goodbye, I can’t remember their names
    And week after week, it’s always the same

    And it’s Ho, boys, can’t you code it, and program it right
    Nothing ever happens in the life of mine
    I’m hauling up the data on the Xerox line

    Then it’s code in the data, give the keyboard a punch
    Then cross-correlate and break for some lunch
    Correlate, tabulate, process and screen
    Program, printout, regress to the mean

    And it’s Ho, boys, can’t you code it, and program it right
    Nothing ever happens in the life of mine
    I’m hauling up the data on the Xerox line

    Then it’s home again, eat again, watch some TV
    Make love to my woman at ten-fifty-three
    I dream the same dream when I’m sleeping at night
    I’m soaring over hills like an eagle in flight

    And it’s Ho, boys, can’t you code it, and program it right
    Nothing ever happens in the life of mine
    I’m hauling up the data on the Xerox line

    Someday I’m gonna give up all the buttons and things
    I’ll punch that time clock till it can’t ring
    Burn up my necktie and set myself free
    Cause no’one’s gonna fold, bend or mutilate me.

  3. Jim Ulrich Says:

    I wonder what would last longer (and still have recoverable data) in a drawer: CD-R or a punch card?

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    Probably a punch card. But a CD-R holds a lot more data. 🙂

    If they were used in a binary fashion, 80 column punch cards like this one can hold roughly 80 bytes of data, whereas CD-Rs can store up to 736,966,656 bytes. That’s over nine million times as much data, which makes it that much more painful when the medium fails prematurely. 🙂

  5. Zoyous Says:

    I’ve been burning CD-Rs since 1997 and have only had a couple become unreadable since then. When I think about the ultimate impossibility of preserving data due to the various physical and mechanical vulnerabilities, I guess losing a couple in a decade ain’t too bad.

  6. Daniel Says:

    Wow – very cool. I went to NCSU, and so seeing this evokes memories of my time there.

    How neat to find such a memento – I’m jealous!

  7. TatterDemalion Says:

    wow! my dad used to have boxes of these that had never been punched …our family used them mostly for writing notes on, taking phone messages etc. when we got our first nintendo i used them for writing down passwords, never realizing what their actual purpose was…i remember wondering what purpose the numbers on them served as a young child and then my brain never thought of them as anything more than scrap paper. i hope i can find some more in our attic or something.

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