I purchased two identical computer parts at an estate sale that seemed unusual. I was told that perhaps it was a component from an old IBM mainframe.

I was able to date them between late 50's and early 60's from the logo that was in use at the time. However, I have no idea what purpose they served.

Can anyone help?


  • That looks like a modular screwdriver.
    – Bib
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 18:55
  • It does appear to be a key of some sort with the intent that both ends be utilized as jacks or inserts.
    – user1746209
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 19:03
  • 12
    Why upload a screenshot of the picture if you already have the picture? Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


According to this page it's a wire punch tool for a 1940 IBM 402 computer programming board.

From that page (screenshot of the page is below):

1940 IBM 402 Computer Programming Board A tidbit fact: Temporary, orange tipped wires were easier to insert and remove. They were used a lot during the testing and design programming phase. Permanent wires the ones with no orange ends were used after a programmer was sure that the program was working right. The permanent wires were inserted with the red wire punch tool and also were remove from the back with the same tool.

enter image description here

(Note: on that page click the white 'i' circle icon for Photo Details to see the quoted text above)

  • 1
    You can get one on eBay also (for now): ebay.com/itm/313983535095
    – squillman
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 19:07
  • 1
    From the days the program needed to be hardwired into the computer.
    – Tonny
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 19:11
  • Well, you certainly brought about closure to that question. Thanks a million!
    – user1746209
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 19:13
  • 1
    The IBM 402 dates from the late 1940's, so it's not a computer. It's a tabulating machine. IBM's first mass-market computer was in the mid-50s. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 15:13
  • 4
    @RogerLipscombe The line between tabulating machines and computers is a rather blurry one. Machines like ENIAC are without doubt considered computers, despite being patch board programmed.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 17:55

I could be wrong, but I don't think it is actually a computer part.
Looks more like a handle/key to open a computer case.
Case is maybe the wrong word... They were more the size of large cupboard back in the day.

  • Thanks for the quick response Tommy. Let me know if you come up with something more specific.
    – user1746209
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 18:56
  • 4
    @user1746209 Squillman got it right. I knew I had seen the bloody thing before when I was in university about 35 years ago. There was a whole collection of similar tools lying around there. Some were handles/keys, but some others were wire-punches.
    – Tonny
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 19:09

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