UCLA Computer Club Punch Card

In the 1960s, when UCLA (the University of California at Los Angeles) purchased a commercial computer from IBM, students formed a club where they could share their knowledge of the new machines. At that time, data and programs were entered onto computers using punched cards like this one. The decoration of the card was up to the individual customer. This is a pink 80-column punch card for an IBM computer. Each column contains the digits from 0 to 9. The background of the card shows the head of a moose propped in front of a log. An open book lies on the left, and magnetic tape is in the mouth of the moose.
Currently not on view
Object Name
punch card
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: .1 cm x 19 cm x 8.4 cm; 1/16 in x 7 1/2 in x 3 5/16 in
Place Made
United States: California, Los Angeles, University of California at Los Angeles
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Computers & Business Machines
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Visitor Comments

10/22/2012 11:37:17 PM
Barb Kostanick
The Moose was a riff on the acronym for how computer time was charged -- the Machine Unit Second (MUS) -- students were given an allocation of MUS for each class. After each program run, your printout would show how many MUS were used, and how many were left.
7/19/2013 10:35:20 AM
William Putnam
The "MU$" under the moose relates to the processing charge unit for the IBM mainframe computer that the UCLA Office of Academic Computing (sponsor of the Computer Club) used for accounts. It stands for the Machine Unit Second charged for each program job run for processing time, paper usage, disk storage, tape usage, and so forth. Before I joined the UCLA Computer Club in 1978 the MU$ (pronounced "moose") had been selected as the club mascot.
7/19/2013 10:35:51 AM
Charles Kline
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the computer could only run one job at a time. You made arrangements to use the computer. Then when it was your time, you signed a log book with the time when you started and when you ended. That log book was used to keep track of the time you used and possibly to bill your department or you. That is where the phrases "log in" and "log out" come from. Later, when batch processing systems came about in the early 1960s, a stream of jobs was sent to the computer and it executed the jobs one at a time. The computer kept track of how much time each job took and that was used for billing. By the mid 1960s, computers started to support multi-programming running multiple jobs at the same time. The computer system would keep track of how much CPU processing time was used by each job and bill accordingly. However, some jobs used a lot of CPU processing time but other jobs used very little processing time but did a lot of input/output. So some places billed based on combinations of CPU processing time, number of input/output operations, number of operator tape or disk mounts, pages printed, cards punched, etc. At UCLA, there was rule that we could only bill for time. I don't remember whether that rule came from the university or the state or some government agency providing grants but we could only bill for time. So the Campus Computing Network that ran the big computer created the "Machine Unit Second" abbreviated MUS. This fictitious unit of time was calculated using a formula based on CPU processing time, input/output operations, pages printed, etc. and converted it into a "unit of time" so it could be billed. The UCLA Computer Club provided access to the computer for students who wanted to learn programming. They sold punch cards. As a joke, they made a pun on MUS and put a Moose on the card.
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