Story-time with #GrandpaJohn

Chapter II.

“This is another update on Jack, my grandson, and my Kano bonding exercise and my memories of data processing. I am pleased to report that using Kano Draw, we successfully drew and saved a Pizza (Jack loves them). Next time we plan to add more toppings and try our first looping command.

More memories, this time about punch card processing. In 1963 I moved to an area compiling Public Finance statistics which used punch cards to produce sorted and added tabulations.

The standard punch card has 80 columns with each column having 10 punch positions (0-9). Columns were used to record classifications and money amounts. The cards were sorted and then tabulated and totalled. The cards were punched by a group of skilled operators, but they could still make mistakes and I spent hours searching through trays of 500 cards to find the bad card and correct it using a hand punch machine. The tabulators were programmed with plug boards, similar to early telephone switchboards and a program board was kept for each job. Debugging of plugging errors was a very skilled job – just look at the complex plug board. We did some amazing things with the tabulators, including matching cards with Treasury accounts to produce finance statistics only 7 weeks after the end of the financial year. It took several years before a similar program was written for our first computers.”

This is what the punch cards looked like:

Pretty scary, huh?

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