Punch Card Technology
10 artifacts in this set
IMSAI 8080 Microcomputer, Used with Home Built Interface and IBM Selectric Typewriter, Assembled in 1977
The IMSAI 8080 was a clone of the Altair 8800, the first mass marketed personal computer. It was a popular "kit computer," requiring assembly and programming. With no keyboard, toggle switches allowed input and LED lights signaled output. This could be modified using an IBM I/O typewriter. The donor, O.S. Narayanaswami, was a mechanical engineer interested in the educative power of computers.
This ticket was used on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority commuter rail train from the Philadelphia airport to downtown Philadelphia. SEPTA manages commuter rail, buses, trolleys and subway routes in the Philadelphia area. These tickets are not dispensed electronically; they are purchased on board and punched by conductors.
This mobile voting machine collapses into the size of a briefcase. Fully opened, privacy panels fold out to form a voting booth. Paper "butterfly ballots" are pierced with a "punch needle"--reminiscent of computer punch cards. During the 2000 Presidential election, these infamous ballots caused confusion among voters in Palm Beach County, Florida. Spoiled and mismarked ballots forced a recount.
The Pellow Machine Company in Detroit, Michigan, used this time recording punch clock from 1938 until their closure in 1977. This is a desktop model with an electric clock and a horizontal tray into which worker would slide their punch card. Such time clocks both regulated employees' workdays and helped insure accurate calculation of their pay.
This Western Electric Card Dialer phone used punch cards to encode business information and to communicate with corporate computers. This phone would have been part of a system purchased by a large business. Each of the alphabetical cards would have stored useful telephone numbers; the other punch cards would have held programs to run on a central computer.
Carole Ashley at the Jacquard Loom, Plymouth Carding Mill (now Gunsolly Carding Mill), Greenfield Village, 1977
Craftspeople have presented weaving demonstrations at Greenfield Village since it opened to the public in 1933. Over the years, weavers have used several historic and refurbished looms located in the Plymouth Carding Mill (now Gunsolly Carding Mill) to create hand-crafted textiles. These presentations and resulting products help tell the story of textile production in America.
After seven years tabulating the 1880 census, the US Census Bureau ran a contest for a quicker method. Herman Hollerith won, and his "computer" was used for the 1890 census. Data was transferred to punched cards, which were pressed under a plate with pins in it. The pins went through punched holes into mercury-filled wells, completing a circuit and registering the data on the machine's dials.
Joseph-Marie Jacquard's loom, first developed in 1801, is programmable. It used a series of punched cards to control the lifting of each individual warp thread to weave a figured fabric. With this loom, weavers could create intricate patterns more easily, faster, and with better accuracy. Punch card technology became the basis for computer data storage during the 20th century.
This portrait of French inventor Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752 - 1834) was woven of fine silk using the mechanism that he developed and patented in 1804. Jacquard's device employs punched cards to store the intricate pattern design and to control the loom. These loom cards eventually led to the data cards used in early digital computers.