Round holes (square pegs?) RE: Seen on RISKS-L

From: Fred Cisin <>
Date: Thu Mar 7 16:31:39 2002

On Thu, 7 Mar 2002, Ethan Dicks wrote:
> P.S. - it was reminscent of the problems of reading the 1960 census. I'd
> heard that the only extant copy of the data was on microfilmed round-holed
> punch cards. Round-holed because that's the equipment (Univac?) they
> used for that census. Microfilmed because the climate controlled warehouse

Round-holed because IBM got a patent on the shape of the hole in punch
cards! Until the patent was overturned, other companies tried various
ridiculous work arounds, such as round holes.

IBM also got a patent on using a metal brush and brass roller for card
reading. That really bollixed up the industry! Some tried 960 push
buttons in a matrix, etc. Then somebody finally succeeded in using light
and photocell. Suddenly the IBM patent that blocked everybody else's card
readers was responsible for the competition coming out with a card reader
that was significantly faster than IBM's!

Sorry, but I don't have references and details on these events. My father
had told me about them before he died.

Grumpy Ol' Fred
Received on Thu Mar 07 2002 - 16:31:39 GMT

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