Tangible Media: Removable Storage of Image, Sound, Motion and Data
Tangible Media: Removable Storage of Image, Sound, Motion and Data
Tangible Media: Removable Storage of Image, Sound, Motion and Data
Holes
IBM 80-Column

Title:

Student's Class Card

Date:

1970s

Material:

Card stock

Dimensions:

7⅜ x 3¼ in. (18.7 x 8.4 cm)

Company:

University of California - Berkeley

Location:

Berkeley, California

The 80-column "IBM card" was the de facto standard for punch cards during much of the 20th century, so much so that early computer displays adopted an 80-character width. The format was invented by IBM engineer Clair D. Lake and adopted by IBM in 1928. The narrow rectangular holes allowed 80 columns, dramatically increasing the amount of information a card could hold.

Class cards were used by colleges during course registration, at a time when students had to physically line up for the courses they wanted. If they got into a course, they were given a class card. Once they filled their schedule, they gave the cards to the registrar along with a card identifying the student. The registrar would have the cards processed at the campus computing center. Of course, cards introduced into the real world suffered abuse, e.g., " …the Registrar was so concerned that the Student and Course cards might get shuffled, she stapled the cards for each student together." Hence, warnings like "Do not fold or bend this card."

"Do not fold, spindle or mutilate" became an aphorism adopted by the student movements of the 1960s and then by the culture at large.