Columbia University Computing History   

The IBM 557 Alphabetic Intepreter

The IBM 557 Alphabetic Intepreter, with plugboard chamber open and plugboard showing. Purpose: to print characters across the top of each card corresponding what is punched in each column. The Interpreter was normally used with decks that were output by an online punch or a reproducing punch, or produced in a key punch with a dry or missing ribbon. Custom functions could be programmed on the plugboard. CLICK HERE for more about plugboards.

IBM 557 Intepreter
Photo: Found at a Finnish computing history website (, now defunct).

Columbia University Computing History Frank da Cruz / This page created: January 2001 Last update: 30 March 2021