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Data Entry: 1942

Data Entry: 1942

June 1942. Washington, D.C. "U.S. Office of Defense Transportation system of port control and its traffic channel control." More antique IBM punch-card equipment. Photo by Albert Freeman for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Ergonomic catastrophe

My old typing teacher would have gone apoplectic looking at this picture. Feet flat! Pull your chair up! Sit straight!

IBM 040

I can't identify the lady, but the machine is an IBM 040 tape-controlled card punch. It is described on their handy-dandy website. Looks like it can be operated from paper tape as well as manual entry. That would explain the huge control box under the desk.


I wonder if there's a verification step. 60s keypunch operators punched out the deck from the sheet first, and then another operator did the same thing with a verifier machine, which punched a notch on the top of cards that matched the verifier's input. A card in the deck without the notch is easily seen and can be checked for which way it's wrong, a puncher mistake or a verifier mistake. Otherwise you wind up with mistakes in the data, which is pretty serious in numeric data.

Digital temperatures in the basement tend to record as 56 57 57 55 999999999945 56 54 ... which positively ruins your averages.


This was something I did in the Army of the 70's (with a bit more modern equipment) just as punch cards were being phased out. The cards had no printing on them at all. To drop a stack of them was an utter disaster.

Hollerith cards

with a vintage IBM ten key entry system. Probably the same kind my wife trained on. My wife really complained when the companies switched the key pad around from ten-key to calculator style on data entry systems.


When I look at the photo, all I can see is her awesome spectator pumps. These shoes always remind me of my Mom, who at 102 years old, would still be wearing spectator pumps if they were currently in style.

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