chad--background info from C. Jensen

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sat Jan 6 17:30:13 UTC 2001

      Several days ago I posted a message from Mr. Chris Jensen about
his hearing the term "chad" in 1952 when training in the US Army's
teletype school. On Jan. 4 I received another message from him with
some interesting background information and will now present excerpts
(beneath my signature).

---Gerald Cohen

>(...) I later worked for IBM, selling punch-card processing systems.
>The current press attributes the word to the punch-card culture that
>resides in ballots and voting machines. Interestingly, at no time in
>my 24-year IBM career did I hear anyone use the word "chad." We
>always used 'chip' and 'chips.' The piece of any machine that
>collected the chips was called the "chip box." That was both common
>usage and the name of the box in manuals, parts lists, etc.
>Rectangular punch-card chips collected in chip boxes until the box
>was manually dumped. Users were cautioned to be careful with chips
>because they could injure an eye if lodged there. That admonishment
>was directed to those who would playfully dump the contents of the
>chip box on another person as though it were confetti. Chips with
>their pointed corners were potentially hazardous, while I've never
>heard the same of confetti.
>My vocational path diverged from that of the people in IBM who sold
>and support voting machine systems and I didn't have reason or
>opportunity to keep up with that segment of the business. Possibly
>they got to know the word 'chad' as defining chips from ballots. If
>so, I don't know why they adopted that usage.
>In the Army we carefully disposed of the chad from perforators so as
>to not leave anything behind a moving field unit that could identify
>that unit's purpose or equipment. Chadless perforators didn't leave
>chad. In either case, we had to manage the disposition of the
>perforated tape in equal fashion. (...)
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