Job Cards

Part of the Punched Card Collection
by Douglas W. Jones
THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA Department of Computer Science

Carnegie Tech Computation Center

 [Carnegie Tech job card punch-card]

This is a classic job card from the mid 1960's, with blanks for hand-writing key information about the job, as well as pre-formatted fields for punching much of the same information and more. This card includes a blank for system-name, appropriate for an era when the computer center had several different batch systems, and the blank for a hand-written time limit supports older batch systems where resource limits were not automatically enforced.

Princeton University Computer Center

 [Princeton job card punch-card]

This job card is prepunched with //JOB in the first 6 columns, this was the standard start of a job card under OS/360. Prepunching the card prevented computer center users from using these cards for other purposes. The fine print on the right side of the card describes many of the options allowed by OS/360. One puzzling feature of this card is that the explanatory information filling the center of the card doesn't align in any useful way with the card columns, although the graphics suggest that such an alignment was intended. A high-resolution scan is available.

Stanford Computation Center

 [Stanford job card punch-card]

This card appears to be from the 1961-1966 era, when Stanford had a Burroughs B5000 (upgraded in 1965 to a B5500) and an IBM 7090. The prepunched text "$JOB" in columns 1 through 4 allows the card to be dated to before 1967 when Stanford got an IBM System 360/67; on that machine, job cards always began with "// JOB". Unlike the Carnegie Tech card, it has no fields for handwritten information. It also lacks the interesting artwork, perhaps because it is clearly intended to be the second card in a 2-card sequence. The graphic design parallels between this card and the Princeton job card are striking, but puzzling, since they are clearly for different computer systems.

By the late 1960's, Stanford, MIT and Carnegie Mellon were the three leading centers of computer science research in the country, and all of them were among the pioneers in the shift away from punched cards to interactive on-line computing.

Thanks to Mark C. Lawrence at Stanford for his notes on the history of Stanford's computer systems.

A very generic job card

 [Generic job card punch card]

Machine operators needed job cards to be easily distinguished from others so that they could separate jobs from each other in the output hopper of the card reader, but so long as the job card was obvious, nothing other than computer center policy required the use of any special kind of card. Some computer centers required nothing particularly special; this job card was used at the head of a FORTRAN program written by the late Lloyd Knowler, a member of the Statistics faculty at the University of Iowa. Aside from the distinctive green color, it has absolutely nothing to identify it as a job card other than the keyword "JOB" punched on the card itself,