These days, humans use the keyboard and the mouse to 'talk' to the computer. But, not that long ago, sending instructions to the computer wasn't as easy as it's today.
In the early days of computing, humans had to use punched cards to introduce any new program or software.
With this game, you'll learn about punched cards and how they helped humans send instructions to the computer. Let's get playing!
You'll need a set of 5 punched cards for every human playing. Download your set and cut out the holes in cards 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Notice that the numbers 0 through 31 appear in every card on either one or the other side of the card.
Think of a number between 0 and 31.
Take your punched card 0 and search for the number you thought of. Leave the card on the table, looking up.
Make sure the chosen number appears on the card's upper side.
Now, take your punched card 1 and look for the number you thought of in it. Ensure that the chosen number is on the upper side and place it over the card 0, so you don't see the printed side.
Important: You need to be looking at the backside of the card.
Go on and do the same with your punched card 2. First, look for the number you thought of, then orient it until the number is placed on the upper side.
Place it over card 1 with its backside facing up.
Repeat the same process for your punched cards 3 and 4.
Do you see a unique number appearing on the upper side?
When you finally place all the cards on top of each other, you'll be able to see only two numbers — an odd number and an even number.
The number that you thought of is on the upper side!
In this game, you'll find each number from 0 through 31 in every card and because of that, if you'd replace each number for a symbol, the game would still work.
😀 😂 😇 🥰 😋 🤨 🧐 🤓 😴 🤭Why don't you replace each number with an emoticon, create your own punched cards for them and replicate the game with your friends?
Important: Remember to always replace each number with the same symbol on every card.
- Mathematics: Number – Exploring numbers in other bases. Representing numbers in base two.
- Mathematics: Algebra – Continue a sequential pattern, and describe a rule for this pattern. Patterns and relationships in powers of two.
- One set of 5 punched cards for every human playing the game.
- A pair of scissors to cut out the holes in the punched cards.
- Photo credits by Wikimedia Commons.
- This activity has been adapted from Matemagia, by Fernando Blasco.
- Illustrations by Miriam Tocino.
About the author
Alicia Tocino is a mathematician and teacher at the University of Malaga in Spain. She has a passion for magic tricks and uses them to turn the classroom into a spectacle for her students.