A punched card (also known as Hollerith cards, IBM cardsor and punch card) were widely used through much of the 20th century (1900’s) in what became known as the data processing industry. It is a stiff piece of paper that contains digital information and is an early method of data storage used with early computers. This information is represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions. The information could be data for data processing applications or used to directly control automated machinery including the Pianola. The cards contain a number of punched holes that were punched by hand or machine to represent data. These cards allowed companies to store and access information by entering the card into the computer.
The idea of the punch card was first developed by Basile Bouchon to control a textile loom in 1725. The design was improved by his assistant Jean-Baptiste Falcon and Jacques Vaucanson in 1740. Further developments were made in 1890, by Herman Hollerith (who later formed the company IBM), who developed a method for machines to record and store information to be used for the US census.
Early computers could not store files like today’s computers as they had no memory. So, if you wanted to create a data file or a program the only way to use that data with other computers was to use a punch card. Whilst punch cards were the primary method of storing and retrieving data in the 20th century (1900s), after magnetic media was created in the 1960’s and began to be cheaper, punch cards stopped being used. They are very rarely used or found today.
Using a punch card machine, data can be entered into the card by punching holes on each column to represent one character.
Once a card has been completed or the return key has been pressed the card technically “stores” that information. Because each card could only hold so much data if you wrote a program using punch cards (one card for each line of code) you would have a stack of punch cards that needed to remain in order. The punch card below would have been the last card in a sequence and was used to instruct the computer to end the program.
To load the program or read a punch card data, each card is inserted into a punch card reader that input the data from the card into a computer. As the card is inserted, the punch card reader starts on the left-top-side of the card and reads vertically starting at the top and moving down. After the card reader has read a column it moves to the next column.
“A tendency to find a product desirable because it has a high price”
Students of economics would be familiar with the concept that the price and demand for goods are related. This is a relationship known as the Law of demand. In this concept the prediction is that if there are two products that are the same, a higher price will decrease demand and a lower price will lower demand.
The Veblen effect is an exception to this rule or law. It was first observed by the economist Thorstein Veblen who saw a tenancy in some cases that increasing price can increase demand. Also, decreasing price can decrease demand. This effect is generally associated with traditionally higher priced luxury items such as Jewelry, luxury cars, Hotels, luxury cruise ships or fine wines.
The reason for this is the human desire for status. This is the desire to be seen to belong to the higher class or the desire to be seen to not belong to the lower class.
The Veblen effect is applicable when a good or service is visible to others. In a recent boxing match between Mayweather and McGregor in Las Vegas ring side seats were sold for US$50,000 each. These seats were only affordable to the super wealthy and those that wanted to be seen as being able to afford such high priced seats.
“The time it takes to make a decision increases as the number of alternatives increases”
Designers can improve the efficiency of a design by understanding the implications of Hicks law. Hick’s law, also known as the Hick–Hyman Law is named after after the British and American psychologists William Hick and Ray Hyman. The law describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time. The law is used to make a prediction as to how long it will take for people to make a decision when presented with multiple choices.
For example, in a situation where response time is critical such as an airline pilot, the greater number of choices available such as buttons to press in response to an alarm will increase the time it takes to make that decision. In these situations systems need to be designed to allow the user to make quick decisions.
It is also important for a web designer to consider Hicks law when creating a shopping cart. If a user was presented with the entire buying process involved in making a purchase on a site such as Amazon.com or Lego.com, many would give up and not follow through with a purchase. These sites will break up the purchasing experience by breaking down the process by prompting users to firstly click to add to a cart, then asking to register their e-mail and create a password. They will then give buyers another screen with payment details, then another which collects delivery information and so on. By reducing the number of options on screen, the payment process becomes more user friendly, and it’s more likely that the user will reach the end of the process rather than abandon the cart.
It is also important to know when not to use Hick’s Law. The law does not apply to complex decision making such as when complex reading, searching, deliberation or problem solving is required. In these cases, Hick’s Law won’t be able to predict the time to make a decision. An example of this is in selecting a meal from a restaurant menu. This task generally does not involve time pressures and involves an amount of reading and possibly discussion before deciding on an option.
These type of choices are complex. Users need to consider and weight many options before making the final decision. In these cases, Hick’s Law prediction will fail. It only applies to simple quick decisions in appropriate context.