Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: JJMDiMunno

  by Allen Hazen
 
BR&P, three posts and abut a half dozen years ago, said:
"NYC used the IBM system, with punchcards ..."
There might be an interesting story for a historian of business or technology to follow up on there: this might have been one of the longest relationships of a supplier and customer in the history of the computer business! New York Central was one of "IBM's" FIRST customers. Famously, one of Hermann Hollerith's first customers for his punched card and card reading machine business was the U.S. Census Bureau, to help process the data -- unprecedented amount of data, both because the country was growing and, I think, because the Census Bureau was asking more questions -- from the 1890 Federal census. But one of the first commercial customers was ... the New York Central Railroad! Hollerith's company eventually (around 1920) changed its name to International Business Machines, and gradually advanced its technology, allowing its machines to process the data on punched cards in increasingly complex ways, getting into what we recognize as electronic computers after WW II. If the New York Central was a steady customer -- applying Hollerith/IBM technology to more and more aspects of their business and obtaining better and better machines to do it with -- up to the time of the PC merger, we would have close to an 80 year relationship between the two companies.
  by urr304
 
PRR then PC had a clerk at the Greenville [PA] depot for several years processing car loadings from interchange with B&LE at the nearby Shenango Yard. Each car from a B&LE train [either PRR or B&LE cars] of ore for Sharon and Youngstown destinations had a punch card from B&LE, the clerk picked up the stack of cards from the B&LE yard office, went to the PRR depot in Greenville, he fed the cards in to his punching termnal, it had a premade PRR tape of destination material, the trains consists tape was generated then fed into transmitter to Philadelphia before the train would be accepted for further movement on the PRR/PC pending car/air brake clearance. He would reverse procedure to make up a deck of cards to drop off to B&LE. A paper consist list was also printed and posted. I was just a neighbor kid, and helped with feeding the tape and posting consists.

The also kept the station opened for a few years until data links were established. In fact station had been closed for a number of years before they needed the computer information to Philadelphia, only had a signal maintainer based there and freight portion as leased warehouse.