English translation: the person who manually processes punch cards
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English to English translations [Non-PRO] Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature
English term or phrase:punch operator
about the context:
it's britain in the late 50s, and the person in question, a "computer programmer" (a mathematics graduate) is working at the IBM office in london.
the passage goes as follows:
"He has no further luck with English girls. There are English girls enough at the IBM, secretaries and punch operators, and opportunities to chat to them. But from them he feels a certain resistance..."
there's no other mention of the term - it's not the main subject anyway - but thinking of a period when job descriptions and technologies were so different from today's, can you please explain what really a "punch operator" is and what function he/she actually performs?
Explanation: IBM Punch Cards
Until the mid-1970s, most computer access was via punched cards. Programs and data were punched by hand on a key punch machine and read into a card reader. Large computing sites such as Columbia University purchased cards by the truckload and furnished them free of charge to users. During the IBM 360 era (1969-80) Columbia's cards were embossed with the legend "CUCC 360" (Columbia University Computer Center IBM 360) and the Columbia shield (In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen). http://www.columbia.edu/acis/history/cards.html
The link has pictures and will tell you more than you ever wanted to know.
Explanation: The computers of those days used a system of perforated cards to record data. A punch operator was someone who used a keypunch to produce the perforations.
Keypunch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A keypunch is a device for manually entering data into punched cards by precisely punching holes at locations designated by the keys struck by the operator. ...
Jack Doughty United Kingdom Local time: 00:45 Specializes in field Native speaker of: English PRO pts in category: 514