Cards not for Keypunch Use

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

A CDC copyright notice card

 [photo of a shrink-wrapped card deck including a copyright card]

This very small deck of cards has been shrink-wrapped to a cardboard backing. The first card in the deck is a Control Data Corp. copyright-notice card with instructions to remove before reading the card deck and to immediately replace at the head of the deck after reading. A high resolution image is available.

The copyright notice card has the number 76 printed on it, presumably the date 1976, and the notation ABC LOADER and NOS2. Note that NOS was Control Data's Network Operating System, used across their family of large computers during the 1970s. It is a good guess that this loader, occupying only a few punched cards, was in a binary format so it could be used during to help in the bootstrap process.

An IBM memo card

 [memo card printed by IBM, side A, lines for text]  [memo card printed by IBM, side B, graph paper]

Many people used unpunched cards for memos, doodling, grocery lists and other purposes. IBM recognized this and printed two sided cards for this purpose, printing lines for handwritten text on one side and a bit of graph paper on the other side. Of course, nothing preventd use of these cards in a keypunch. High resolution images are available of the front and back.

An ICL memo card

 [memo card printed by ICL]

ICL, a British computer manufacturer from 1968 to 2000 also printed a memo card. ICL's punched-card business was much older than the company, being inherited from its predecessor companies ICT dating to 1959, which inherited from the British Tabulating Machine Company, founded in 1902. A high resolution image is available.

An Ohio State University cover card

 [A cover card from Ohio State University]

Before the development of real operating systes, computer operators were responsible for setting up the machine for each job and monitoring the user programs while they ran. This card is essentially a structured memo to the computer operator that would be rubber banded or boxed with the deck of cards a user submitted as one job. Operators would use the information on these cards to sort jobs into compatible batches, and then remove the memos from the card decks for each batch, mount the tapes (volumes) requested, and then run the jobs in the batch. While the job runs, the operators job was to enforce the resource limits documented on the cards for that batch on running time, memory use, pages of printout and cards punched. If a job exceeided its limits, the operator would intervene. By the mid 1960s, all of this was being automated, with the information moved onto a job card or into the text of the command language used to run the job. A high resolution image is available.

Unlike most of the cards here, this card has no form number or other hint of who printed it. The only reason we know that it came from Ohio State is that it came to this collection with a stack of cards from there. This card may well have been locally printed on commercially available blank card stock.

U.S. Defense Department (Navy) SECRET cover card


If your deck of punched cards contained information critical to the national defense of the United States, you had to protect that information somehow. The solution provided by the government was a "cover sheet" in the form of a card that was to be placed at the head of each such deck of cards. This was in card format, but it was on stock thicker than a card. Therefore, as with the CDC copyright card, this card had to be removed from the card deck prior to reading the deck, and added back later, after the deck was read. The form number NDW-NAVCOSSACT 5511/13 (12-67) suggests that this is U.S. Navy form issued in December 1967.