Punch cards

by Volker Weber

I started programming with punch cards. So I find this question highly amusing: How many punch cards do you need to store 3 minutes of MP3 music? John Walkenbach has the answer.


Wow, that’s a lot of punch cards! I should see if I can dig out a book my late grandfather had on punch card programming — he worked on an EMIDEC 1100 implementation for Barclays bank in London, 1959 - 1961. When I posted a while back about this system I got some links in the comments — see below.

However, I’m afraid that my earliest programming was done with volatile memory, a screen and a keyboard... ;o)EMIDEC 1100 punch cardsEMIDEC 1100 site

Ben Poole, 2005-08-02

Yup - me to - punch cards and paper tape is what I first learned to use and worked with.

Things have certainly moved a long way in the last 30+ years (in my case). If we were lucky we got 24 hr turn-around on the cards when we needed to make corrections - we coded on paper coding sheets that were punched elsewhere. None of the current hacker mentality in those days: desk-checking of code before it was punched up was essential!

John Keys, 2005-08-02

The cards required to fill your 60 GB iPod would fill a stack of boxes 18.3 miles high :)

Jeff Chausse, 2005-08-02

Oops, made a typo: 16.3 miles. Probably not a necessary correction, but I just want to thwart imminent pedantry.

Jeff Chausse, 2005-08-02

Imminent pedantry: It would still fall over. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2005-08-02

I worked briefly for the U.S. Navy, and they used punch cards in that particular division. Of course, the cards where then read, and sent via satelite to Norfolk, but that is another story. My favorative button on the keypunch machine was the "auto skip dup":)

I still have a box full of cards in my basement. Use them for book markers. Great conversational piece.

Vilhjálmur Helgason, 2005-08-03

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