A punched card is a stiff piece of paper on which information is encoded via the presence or absence of holes at predefined locations. This technology was made obsolete by modern data storage systems, although some voting machines, especially in the United States, still use them.
Game and Story Use
- Punched card technology is especially appropriate for Zeerust settings, or locations evoking a Zeerust mood.
- Old, abandoned Soviet laboratories would certainly be appropriate locations for punched cards. And who knows what secrets are hidden on these cards - if anyone could just read them?
- Any super-computer in a Swingin' '60s setting needs lots of punched cards. And big reels of magnetic tape.
- Remember: Do Not Fold, Staple or Mutilate the cards.
- They are also appropriate for a Steampunk setting, as punched cards were invented in 1801 for use in programming the Jacquard loom and Charles Babbage considered using them in his Analytical Engine
- They can also work for hack-resistant technology - even accidentally. Players of the Deus Ex mod Zodiac will recall Paul Denton's delight at encountering Cold War era access control systems to which his state of the art nanomods were irrelevant.
- Might also work for a really post apocalyptic game - especially if the cards have been recreated in gold and incorporated into some kind of ceremonial artifact, or their patterns are reproduced as part of a religious text. An electromechanical computer in a sealed environment might wait for millenia to swing into action when someone finally understands how to insert a card programme.
- Would work best with a Fallout style world where the apocalypse occured before computers became too advanced.