Looking to kill some time during the dog days of summer? Here's one option that John Ptak came up with. On his intriguing blog, The History of Ideas, he writes: "Isn't this great? I bumped into a wonderful site called kloth.net that provides a free-to-all and unrestricted use of their punch card emulator. It was found while looking for dating ideas for an IBM 5081 card that I have that has programming information for the BINAC computer (ca. late 1940's), and kloth.net had info on the history of IBM cards as well as the emulator--plus other stuff. Completely distracted from the BINAC quest, I created some cards using some great first lines of literature. You can play too!" I created two of my own, using The American Book Review's list of 100 great opening lines.
What exactly is a punch card, our younger readers might rightly ask? An IBM web site tells us:
Perhaps the earliest icon of the Information Age was a simple punched card produced by IBM, commonly known as the “IBM card.” Measuring just 7- 3/8 inches by 3- 1/4 inches, the piece of smooth stock paper was unassuming, to be sure. But taken collectively, the IBM card [like the floppy disks that came later] held nearly all of the world’s known information for just under half a century—an impressive feat even by today’s measures. It rose to popularity during the Great Depression and quickly became a ubiquitous installment in the worlds of data processing and popular culture. What’s more, the punched card [see examples from Columbia University here] provided such a significant profit stream that it was instrumental to IBM’s rapid growth in the mid-twentieth century.
Now punch away....
via The Paris Review