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.
  by JimBoylan
 
Various books on the PennCentral bankruptcy mention that the usual railroad reorganization in earlier years was to shed debt obligations, often by converting it to stock in the reorganized company. The railroad was making money on its operations, but not enough to also pay interest and principal on its past borrowings. Exceptions, like the Colorado Midland in 1918 and the New York, Ontario & Western in 1957, were abandoned and liquidated. But the NorthEast roads were losing money on operations, yet their abandonments would have serious negative effects on the public economy.
  by BR&P
 
Allen Hazen wrote:BR&P, three posts and abut a half dozen years ago, said:
"NYC used the IBM system, with punchcards ..."

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.
Absolutely they did, the punchcard system lasted to the end of NYC, through Penn Central, and was still in use with various modifications on Conrail in September 1979. How long after that it was in use I can't say.

And this thread borders on the humorous - Alan, in 2020, responds to a post I made in 2014. Over 2 years later, I'm finally replying to his. :P
  by Fishrrman
 
BR&P:
"Absolutely they did, the punchcard system lasted to the end of NYC, through Penn Central, and was still in use with various modifications on Conrail in September 1979. How long after that it was in use I can't say."

Seems to me they were still using the punchcards when I worked at the Croton West Yard (NY) in the early 1980's.

The conductors would take those cards (blanks without any punches) and make notes with them.

I got in the same habit (good for copying speed restrictions and hanging them in front of you on the engine). I think I might still have a few of them up in the attic...