ICL Hand Punch Card Machine from 1969


For a whole generation of people card punch machines like this one will instantly bring back vivid memories. As hand punching was the only option for many, these machines became the backbone of the computer industry. In reality they are little more than glorified hole punches but for such a simple machine worked extremely well. The fresh 80 column instruction card would be put in the side and as the relevant key is tapped a carefully positioned rectangular hole is made in the card. The tiny flecks of cut out card (or ‘chad’ as it was commonly known) was then collected in the little tray underneath for disposal.

This example was made by ICL and dates to either 1968 or 69. Interestingly we know its heritage because it retains its original code card from Bradford University Computer Laboratory which is also dated for 1969. The machine is in nice fully working condition overall and was disassembled and carefully cleaned and polished throughout. The rubber key tops are quite worn and misshapen from use, but are the originals. This punch would be perfect for display.

To read my blog post about computer punch cards click here.

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