Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Wright Punch Model 2600: A Method for Programming Old Main Frame Computers

Wright Punch Model 2600 card punch
Our object this week reminds us that it used to be pretty complicated to program one of the old main frame computers.  Information was coded by punching patterns of holes into cards, which were then fed into a computer via a card reader.  This is a mechanical IBM card punch for visually impaired computer programmers based on the
Hollerith Keypunch Code.  Hollerith was fairly easy for braille readers to learn. (Most sighted programmers used a typewriter keyboard to punch their cards.) A label on top of the punch reads "Wright Punch Model 2600, Wright Line, Worcester, Mass. USA." It also lists the key numbers and letter and symbols code. It has thirteen keys attached to a movable carriage. Letters and punctuation marks were made by pressing multiple keys, another similarity to braille, and a spacing key advanced the carriage. The keys punched holes into the IBM card placed beneath the carriage.   Larry Honaker, the original donor, used the card punch early in his career as a programmer. He graduated from Columbus Technical Institute in Pittsburgh, in 1974. He worked for the Defense Department in Central Design Headquarters, Defense Electronic Supply.  The Wright Punch Model 2600 was in use there until around 1986, when he began using an electronic terminal fitted with an Optacon for reading the screen.



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