Punch Card Machines
Home Up Punch Card Application Plugboards Operators Punch Card IBM 026 IBM 514 IBM 602 IBM 083 IBM 077 IBM 444 IBM 557 Card Model 1 Card Model 2 Card Model 3 Card Model 4 Card Model 5

 

 

Punched Card Machines

Prior to the actual period of computers the automatic data processing was handled mainly by punched card machines. The age of punched card machines is calculated to have started in 1890 when Mr. Herman Hollerith designed the first punched card machines for the population cencus of the United States. He was inspired by the punched card programming of a weaving machine.

Mr. Hollerith founded a company for manufacturing and selling his machines. The company is known as IBM since 1924. The ascendancy of the punched card machines continued until 1960s when they were replaced by real computers. Some punched card machines were in use even in the 1980s as some minor part of computers.

Punched Card

A punched card is a card made of special cardboard designed for punched cards. The size of the card is 82 * 186 millimeters which are - by the way - the same measures that were used previously in the US dollar.

The card has 12 lines and 80 columns. The card can be perforated with rectangled holes by special devices. In the original cards developed by Mr. Hollerith the holes were circular. The location of a hole specifies the value of the current information. Holes on the lines 0 to 9 corresponded the numerical values from 0 to 9.

It was also possible to save and handle alphabetical information and special characters on punched cards. For this purpose lines 11 and 12 on top of the card were used. Each alphabetic letter or special character was corresponded by a double perforation at the same column e.g. 12,1 = A.

Horizontally the card could be separated to information fields that could be handled (sum up, copy, sort, print) by punched card machines.

The card could also include printing that cleared out the purpose of the card and its information fields. Some card types had also space for microfilm at the right lower corner of the card. The microfilm could include blueprints or pictures.

Punched Card

 

The value of each column was usually written by clear text at the top of the punched card. This value was usually printed by a keypunch machine.

Special interpretation machines e.g IBM 557 were used to translate desired information fields to clear text. These translated information fields could also be written in some different position of the card than on the top of the card.

Different examples of punched cards:

Example 1 of a Punched Card

Example 2 of a Punched Card

Example 3 of a Punched Card

Example 4 of a Punched Card

Example 5 of a Punched Card

 

Later punched cards were used in several different purposes e.g. saving microfilms, transportation tickets and voting cards.

Especially popular application was so called Mark Sensing - card. Mark Sensing card was a normal punched card equipped with printed Mark Sensing mark positions. It was possible to underline desired value to these positions by using a special Mark Sensing pen. 

It was possible to recognize these lines by a punched card machine and change them as perforations to the card by using e.g. an accessory for IBM 519 duplicating machine. The reading of these lines was based on the electrical conductivity of the line made by Mark Sensing pen.

Mark Sensing cards were popular in portable data collection. Electricity meter reader assembler had a sheaf of pre-perforated Mark Sensing cards about consumers of electricity. He only had to underline new meter reading on the card by using Mark Sensing pen. After that it was possible to do all further processing of the information until printing an electricity invoice by using machines.

Mark Sensing Punch Card

 

Punched Card Machines

IBM Keypunch machine 026

IBM Keypunch Machine 026

Printing Card Punch. It was possible to duplicate individual cards by using this machine. The machine is equipped with a mechanical needle printer, that decodes the information from the card directly on top of the card. The machine can be programmed by using the  programming drum to e.g. jump over selected columns or change alternatively the alphabetic information to numerical information.

IBM Punched Card Duplicator Machine 514

IBM Punched Card Duplicator Machine 514

This machine is also known as Reproducing Punch or "Repro". It was mainly used to duplicate cards from one stack to another. The machine can also be connected to a calculation unit or tabulator by a special connecting cable. When connected the machine works as a sum perforator when data processed on calculation unit or tabulator is transferred to Repro for perforating. The machine is also capable of making group perforates. Model 519 can be equipped by Mark Sensing reading device and an empty column or double perforating recognizing device.

IBM Calculation Punch Machine 602

IBM Calculation Punch Machine 602

This machine is used to process additions and subtractions from the desired columns of the punched cards. The programming is done by using the plugboard of the machine. The result is perforated on the same punched card. If the machine is equipped with a special accessory device it can also process multiplications and divisions.
The speed of the machine is 100 cards per minute related to the processing duty.

IBM Sorting Machine 083

IBM Sorting Machine 083

This machine is used to sort the punched cards in order. While sorting cards in alphabetical order 12-11-0 perforatings is used. That way the cards will be in alphabetical order after two separate sorting rounds.
The speed of this machine is 1000 cards per minute.

IBM Card Collator 077

IBM Card Collator 077

This device is electromechanical. It is mainly used to combine one single stack of cards from two different stacks of cards according to the program on the plugboard. It can also be programmed to separate one stack of cards to two different stacks of cards according to desired selection criteria. This machine can also be programmed to check the upgoing selection order from one stack of cards.
Functions: Sequence check = checking the order of cards, Merging = combine two stacks of cards, Matching = comparing two different stacks of cards.

IBM Tabulator 444

IBM Tabulator 444

This machine is the biggest model of all punched card machines. It is mainly used for listing. It can be used also for calculations according to the program on the plugboard. Quite heavy electromechanical device which is manufactured mainly by relays. It can be equipped with a perforating device connected to the papercontrol part of the machine. This accessory device has no own number. The movement of the paper is controlled by this accessory device by using the holes made on the paper loop.
The writing speed of this machine is 100 lines per minute. 

IBM Alphabetical Translation Machine 557

IBM Alphabetical Translation Machine 557

This machine is mainly used to write text on the punched cards according to the program on the plugboard. Text can be written by writing drum from desired columns on one single line by alphabetical letter or numbers.

 

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