General Purpose Punched Cards

Part of the Punched Card Collection
by Douglas W. Jones
THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA Department of Computer Science

DSI 327, 8 Fields of 10 Columns each

 [Very generic punch-card]

This is an example of a typical generic card, widely used both by programmers and for data processing. The printing on the cards can be thought of as dividing the card into 8 fields of 10 columns each, with each columns subdivided into 2 5-column fields, or a programmer might think of the rulings on the card as helpful tab stops for dealing with the indenting structure of free-form but deeply nested programming languages such as Algol or PL/I. A high resolution scan is available.

University of Illinois

 [University of Illinois Computer Science punch-card]

The University of Illinois Digital Computing Lab was a pioneer in computing, building the ILLIAC I and ORDVAC computers in the late 1940s. The Department of Computer Science was the academic heir of that venture. This card from that department has only one interesting feature aside from its institutional imprints, two separate boxes, each with with column numbers, for the textual interpretation of the data punched on the card. The topmost box, 80 columns long, is positioned around the area where interpreting keypunches print, while the bottom box, broken into two lines, is positioned around the area where off-line interpreters would print. A high resolution scan is available.

MIT Information Processing Center

 [MIT punch-card]

This card has essentially no interesting features other than the rather ugly overprinting of the classical MIT seal over the punch position numbers of a standard generic card.

Princeton University Computer Center

 [Princeton University punch-card]

Aside from the change of institution and the omission of the ruled boxes around the areas reserved for interpretation of the card, the design of this card serves all of the same purposes as the Illinois card shown above. A high resolution scan is available.

University of Washington Academic Computing Center

 [University of Washington punched card]

The division of the card into 4-column fields suggests a somewhat unlikely data organization, as most data requires larger fields, but multiples of 4 columns would work for data fields of 8 or 12 columns each. It is also possible that the field divisions on this card are intended to help programmers. Many Algol and PL/I programmers in the 1960s used 4 and 8 column indentation to structure their code in exactly the way that C and C++ programmers continue doing to this day. A high resolution scan is available.

Remington Rand P-11782

 [Remington Rand 90-column card]

The printing on this generic punched card suggests that it is intended for use with Remington Rand's 90-column data format. This arranged the data on the card as 2 rows of 45 characters, where each caracter was encoded with a 6-bit code. Remington Rand developed this system to compete with IBM when IBM's patents on their 80 column data format were still in effect. Remington opted to use the older round-hole punched card format that IBM was phasing out, while using a far more efficient 6-bit encoding for each character instead of the 12-bit Hollerith code IBM used. A high resolution scan is available.