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Data Processing for Dummies

Purchasing and EDP
Kollios and Stempel

Submitter: Once I stopped laughing at the computer punch card on the cover I started flipping through the book trying to figure out what EDP stands for. It’s not mentioned once in the entire book!! (I skipped Wikipedia and went to an older librarian who was able to recall that it means electronic data processing.  Some astute user wrote “waste of paper” on the date due slip in the front of the book.

Holly: Wow, “EDP” is in the title, and it doesn’t even come up in the book!  I think we can safely move this one out of circulation.

0 Responses to Data Processing for Dummies

  • Ha, that takes me back! When I was a teenager, I went on an exchange trip to Scandinavia, and EDP was how people said ‘computer stuff’–it was a relic term then, in 1989.

  • A patron just returned a Boston Public Library book to my library last week with one of those cards in it. The due date card had May 6th 1982. It also had one of those cards in the back. I was astonished to see it.
    I walked down to the BPL to return it and no one at the counter knew what it was.

    I actually learned something for this book! Creepy

    Don’t toss it yet, they might need it down at the BPL though.

  • I don’t remember seeing one of those card thingies. Never heard the term EDP either but I’m crap with acronyms. It took a long time for LMAO to finally sink in. I had to keep looking it up since people would often use it with me and I didn’t want to be the idiot asking what it meant.

  • My vote goes for Electronic Data Processor! That is a complete guess though. Maybe Evil Desk Pepperoni?

    • Electronic Data Processing. Guess it’s so common to have computers in an office these days no one needs a different term.

      And good to see all those punches are easily read to the eye, seeing as each one is so carefully in the right box….. wait…

      • The punches were “read” by their position on the card, which had little (or nothing) to do with the boxes, which were for handwritten data. I remember taking a Humanities course called “Man and the Computer” in 19(mumble) – one of the highlights of the class was a visit to to the college’s data center, where those punched cards were the latest upgrade.

  • Electronic Data Processing is the correct term. I took Data Processing in high school and my first job was as a keypunch operator in a bank. Good thing I had other skills I could use in my work life!

  • How about -Automatic- Data Processing?

    Is ADP still recognized as a slightly dated alternative to Information Technology, or is it as irrelevant as EDP?

    I think ADP is of the terminology of IBM, and with those 650 machines translated versions of it spread into many European languages.

  • I guess I’m tellling my age when I admit that I remember seeing those cards in our monthly phone bill as a child. They always carried a warning “Do not punch, fold, or mutilate this card” and we had to mail it back in with our payment. It felt like Big Brother was watching and just waiting for us to mess with the “evil, all-knowing punch card.”

  • My grandmother worked for a Naval Installation and she brought these cards home by the bundle for me to play with. Doll houses, passwords (to the secret fort under the dining room table, not my harddrive) flip books and many other uses!
    I don’t doubt some are still lurking in the back of drawers of the furniture now in my father’s home. Hope the number of bolts bought in 1972 is no longer classified.

    On the outside chance such a specific title would be of interest, however the submitter may want to offer it to Southwest Museum of Engineering,Communications and Computation.
    The home page reads: Our Mission: Preserving Engineering, Communications and Computation History [www.smecc.org] Ed Sharpe is the archivist there, and I do not know him personally, his post to a mutual listserv are always very “open arms” in tone.

  • There is no direct relation between the punches and the boxes printed on the card, which are meant to be written in with a pen. The punches represent bits, making up bytes, to be read by a bit of computer gear, not by eyeballing them.

  • Back in 1964, I completed Air Force Basic Training at Lackland AFB and was put in the “casual” barracks to wait for my OTS class to start about 6 months later. I was given a job at the induction center “green monster’ bldg late nite to early morning, to sort out EDP cards from new recruits. For the life of me, I can’t recall exactly what I did with them, but I had plenty of time to read a lot of library books, being alone in the building.

  • Many, many moons ago I read an article in a model railroad magazine by a guy who used the punchouts from computer cards (what we’d later learn to call ‘Chads’) to create scale brickwork – I often wonder how he coped when cards went out of style (akthough anyone who’s seen ‘Billion Dollar Brain’ knows punch cards are Teh Awesome!)

  • First computer I ever used was a BUILDING in Oxford University. We did a local history project which involved copying out British 1851 census returns from the good old microfilm versions at the public library, then converting the written data into those punchcards (I think it was one per person in the census, so you ended up with a huge wad of cards). These were then taken to a point where they could be fed into the enormous computer, eventually coming out as pages & pages of printed info from which statistics could (somehow) be derived: e.g. how many agricultural labourers aged 12 there were in the county in 1851, etc.

    Parts of the building were no-go areas and there was quite strict security, though really creepy departments of the University and places like the (government-run) Harwell Atomic Research Establishment nearby presumably had their own data processors.

    I did learn my way around Victorian censuses and how to use microfilm and microfiche readers – still useful four decades later! My own PC today is probably far more powerful than that 1970s university reel-to-reel thing was.

    • Oh, and the cards had their own stacking machine that got the edges precise before feeding into the computer!

  • One college summer I worked as a “tape librarian” for AT&T. I had to file and retrieve the monster tape reels for the refrigerator-sized computers. One day they needed me to punch-type data cards. I remember all the classifieds for “Data Processor Wanted”…big career for women back then!

  • It reminds me of the 1968 classic musical “Hair.” In the song “3-5-0-0,” a listing of modern technology includes “electronic data processing…”