Maker's Name: 
International Business Machines (IBM)
Where made: 
circa 1970
90 × 75 × 84 cm

The IBM 29 Card Punch is a type of keypunch device, used for the creation of punched cards in early data processing. It consists of a keyboard and card bed assembly, mounted on a desk. The card bed assembly consists of multiple parts including a removeable program drum with “starwheel” cogged wheels in the centre panel; a punch station with a punching mechanism located on the right section of the desk; and a stacker for unpunched cards on the left.

Aside from creating new punch cards, the Model 29 could also be used to replicate existing cards. Each of these cards was made of a stiff paper that could be punctured by the cogged wheels of the device. Each card consisted of a grid of 80 columns and 12 rows, with each row corresponding to a specific value: rows 0 - 9 corresponded to the numerals 0 - 9, row 12 was the addition operator, and row 11 was subtraction. Other characters such as the alphabet and special characters were expressed by double- and triple-punching the card in multiple rows, respectively. Therefore, each card could hold up to 80 characters, or bytes of information, which would be read left-to-right across the columns of the card.

By using multiple cards, one after the other, it was possible to run computer programs. The Model 29 was used most often in programming in the FORTRAN programming language. When programming in this way, each punch card represented a new line of programming text.

The Model 29 card punch was released in 1964 and was produced until 1984. It was released with a companion device, the IBM 59 card verifier, and together the two devices were used to record and check user-recorded information. Cards produced by the IBM Model 26 Card Punch were also compatible with the IBM 59, as it was a very similar device to the Model 29 albeit an older punch card device. The Model 29 in the Physics Museum was included in the Queensland Museum’s “Everyone’s Business” exhibition as part of the ‘Computer Technology’ display which ran from October 1999 until January 2000.

This item is part of the UQ Physics Museum ‘Paper Tape and Punched Cards’ Tour
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