Grizzled veterans of the computing industry will relate stories of submitting projects on stacks of punched cards, something those of us who stored their 8-bit works on audio cassettes could only imagine. But for those who fancy experimenting with the format it’s still possible to make a basic card reader using LEDs and light sensors, as [Nino Ivanov] has done using an Arduino Uno as the brains. And these aren’t just for show, each of his cards holds a LISP program that runs in a cloud service.
The Uno does the job of reading, passing its data over its USB serial port to a tablet. On the tablet the serial data is piped to a cloud API to a LISP interpreter. It seems a needlessly complex way to run a factorial program and it’s certainly a little over the top, but on the other hand we love it as a glorious combination of the old and the new. With only 23 characters per card it’s quite an impressive feat to even fit a program on the format, perhaps writing code to fit on minimalist punched cards like this could become a programming challenge in its own right for a generation accustomed to mega-and gigabytes.
If you fancy a go yourself, this isn’t the first punched card reader we’ve shown you.