|A punch card or punched card (or punchcard or Hollerith card or IBM card), is a piece of stiff paper that contains digital information represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions.|
Here are IBM punched cards in IBM 80 column format. Designed in 1928, they had rectangular holes, 80 columns with 12 punch locations each, one character to each column. Card size was exactly 7-3/8 inch by 3-1/4 inch (187.325 by 82.55 mm). The cards were made of smooth stock, 0.007 inch (0.178 mm) thick. There are about 143 cards to the inch. In 1964, IBM changed from square to round corners.
The lower ten positions represented (from top to bottom) the digits 0 through 9. The top two positions of a column were called zone punches, 12 (top) and 11. Originally only numeric information was coded, with 1 punch per column indicating the digit. Signs could be added to a field by overpunching the least significant digit with a zone punch: 12 for plus and 11 for minus. Zone punches had other uses in processing as well, such as indicating a master record.