Punched Computer Tape Section
This item was featured in last month's box of Matter, so subscribers received this item early.
Own a piece of one of the oldest computer programs ever created.
Perforated paper tape, also known as computer tape, was an early form of physical media used for storing digital data. It was first developed in 1725 and rose to popularity in the 1950s–60s. This section of tape was part of a computer program. Programs on tape were typically so long that the tape had to be stored on spools.
The data is encoded into the paper by punching holes according to one of several variations of the Baudot telegraphy code. Just like modern computers, these tapes stored binary data (think ones and zeroes) represented by the presence or absense of a hole at a specific location.
The row of smaller holes were not part of the data, but were used to advance the tape through a machine using a sprocket wheel, and also serve as a directional indicator since the row is offset to one side.
In the digital age, computer programs became much easier to create and widely accessible. Not only did it become simpler to write programs in a digital environment rather than from physical media, but also consider how rare it was to even have access to a computer during the punched tape era. It's safe to assume that of all of the computer programs ever written, punched tape programs are among the earliest.
You'll receive a 3.5" section of vintage punched tape mounted in a plastic case with info card.
You can decode computer tape—or encode your own—with this free online tool.