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When PC Still Means ‘Punch Card’

By David L. Margulius

The New York Times
Circuits; Section G Page 1, Column 1
c. 2002 New York Times Company

NOTE: The following is a short excerpt from the main story. The story in it’s entirety from the nytimes site can be read here.
. . .

Stacking the Deck

From Piecework To Paycheck, In Perforations

So when your work depends on punching cards, how many cards does it take? That, of course, depends on the task.

“The classic application example was in the garment industry — piecework payroll,” said John Patrick, I.B.M.’s former vice president for Internet technology, whose first customer when he joined I.B.M. in 1967 was a beer distributor that used punch cards to generate invoices.

“People who worked on the cutting floor or sewing floor were paid by the ‘piece part,’ ” he said by e-mail. “Every operation for every person resulted in a punched card. One hundred operations per day times five days would have been 500 cards per week per person. A garment manufacturer with 500 employees would have hundreds of thousands of cards.”
And just how high a stack would that make? “The metric I remember so well is 150 cards is a stack one inch thick,” he said. With 500 cards each for 500 employees — or 250,000 cards — a tower of cards just short of 140 feet high would generate each weekly payroll.