Chad enuffa dis? (continued)

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Nov 30 23:25:08 UTC 2000

To add to what Douglas Wilson said, I know that in the days of paper tape in
earlier (1960s) computer use, the devices that would punch out the tape (it
was yellow paper for some reason), usually right next to the computer
console, had a catch bin below the area where the holes got punched.  The
bin would fill up with many thousands of little paper disks.  I cannot
myself recall anyone calling that stuff "chad", as mass noun or count noun,
but I do know that a lot of that stuff was around, in every place doing
computing, and in places doing what used to be called automated typesetting.

For those who have not seen it, the old computer paper tape was about an
inch and a half wide, was low quality (like newsprint), was yellow, and was
punched out line-by-line.  The pattern of dots and non-dots in each line
represented a character -- a non-electronic computer byte.  In those days,
with no hard drives at all, the only means of electronic storage was a huge
and expensive tape drive (as in old movies about computers).  The paper tape
was cheap and purely mechanical, like punch cards, but had the advantage of
allowing a long continuous stream of data recording.

Punch cards used to be very common in the same period, and led to similar
janitorial needs -- to collect, clean out, and dispose of a huge amount of
these little bits of paper.

We should check with some long-time computer users, or retired IBM mainframe
computer types, re usage of "chad".

Sorry to go on, but I think the paper-tape technology is so outmoded that it
may be unfamiliar to many.  As we all know so well, punch cards are still
very much with us.

Frank Abate

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