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Computers from Olden Times

The Computer

I fell in love with this series of books when I lived in the UK. My kids loved these books when they were young.

Of course everyone of a “certain age” will recognize the equipment. How long has it been since anyone has seen a keypunch machine? This is the kind of thing that just makes me feel old. I doubt if anyone under 40 recognizes anything in this book.

I think we can all agree that computers have changed quite a bit since 1971.

In the meantime, enjoy this stroll down memory lane.


More Tech for the kids:

Cool and Cordless

Computers A to Z

Careers in Computers or Mullet Fashion Show? 


15 Responses to Computers from Olden Times

  • I am 34. When I first got into the library career path I had to use a typewriter to fill out Bindery slips. We had a devastating flood and lost all the computers and the outlets. So as we slowly got back on line, there was no money for little library clerk me to get a computer. So they brought out the old 1930’s Royal typewriter. When I moved on from that public library to an academic library, I was surprised to see that they had two typewriters and were still using them in 2000!

    We still have an OKIdata 320 printer for our call number labels. When it died two years ago, my cataloger was besides herself. I was able to find a replacement on eBay.

  • Many older books in academic libraries will still have the old punch cards in pockets in the backs. So, younger students may certainly encounter these things but perhaps not know what they are for…

  • Brand new dot matrix printers are still available for purchase. Just take a look at Amazon. Their first advantage is that they can print multipart forms that remain important for some processes. The second is being able to print a whole large box of paper without refilling anything. Every so often, I threaten to take the time to see if the one that I still have works.

  • When I was a kid (mid-eighties) my mom worked as a keypuncher. (Or whatever the job title would be.) I remember visiting her at work and seeing the punch cards. We also used to have a lot of dot-matrix printer scrap paper.

    At work we have a word-processor/typewriter that we still use sometimes when we have to type information into a form. We’ve had a few young workers (just out of high school) who have never used one before.

  • I’m disappointed the series didn’t have a book on magnets.

  • Where I live in Asia they still use dot matrix printers and going to the bank is like stepping back in time to the early 80s. It’s bizarre seeing as it’s one of the biggest tech producers. I do love the Ladybird books. I’ve still got a whole set in my library 🙂

  • “What are you doing, Dave?”

    (maybe nobody under 40 will recognize this reference either)

  • Love it! Ladybird books are quite sought after these days and this one would be a real find. I’m old enough to remember computers like these though never had occasion to use one.

  • If it uses that font (Westminster) or derivatives, it’s dated enough to discard or reclassify.

  • Keypunch machines? I used one! And I remember when the phone bill came with one of those cards – bad things happened to you if you bent, spindled or mutilated it! If I ever write my memoir (I’m 61) I should call it “My Life, Considered as a Museum Piece.”

    • I will be right next to you! 🙂

    • By the time you write your memoir, you’ll be old enough to play one the women in “Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate” who create a fake profile for a computer dating service, made the same year as this book was published.

  • I taught myself to keypunch at a summer job in 1968! (I was hired to separate and sort the invoices the computer had printed overnight, but I finished that by lunchtime and had to occupy myself somehow for the rest of the day.) The machines were nowhere near as spiffy as the ones in the illustration, however. And, the caption underneath, about verifying, has nothing to do with what we did to verify — when we were verifying, we just repunched the cards with a differently shaped hole, so any discrepancy would be noticed.

  • Oh, and I can say that the last time I saw a keypunch machine was in the computer museum in Paderborn, Germany in 2007!