The New Haven RR’s 1947 IBM Car Processing And Forwarding System

In 1947 the New Haven RR installed a mechanized IBM car forwarding and processing system that used teletype technology.  The railroad was apparently very proud of their new system and published a small booklet about it.  I found a copy and scanned because it’s an interesting look of how technologies changed business operations and the evolution toward data processing and technologies.  It’s also a good look at how the railroads conducted their business in the transition era.  It seems that the motive power transition was not the only one happening on the rails, just one of the most visible.












I’ve included the booklet in it’s entirety to show both how the system operated both before and after the new system was installed. Here’s a link to more about the system from IBM.

From the sounds of it, not very many other railroads installed this system in the late 1940’s.  But then the New Haven had to be forward thinking.


  1. penneyvanderbilt · February 25, 2016

    Reblogged this on PenneyVanderbilt.


  2. Ronald High · February 27, 2016

    This is very interesting. In 1974 I was working for ma Bell as a cable splicer .On a bid I transferred to the Special Services department as a service technician. The group I was in installed and maintained Teletypes for Ma Bell customers, for me Ma was New England Telephone. In Worcester Mass our crew maintained the Teletype part of this system. Since I was a new kid in the crew I only got to work on this system with older and experienced technicians, sort of watch and learn ask questions. It was still located in the South Worcester ex NH then PC yard office. For a year or two it was moved over to the old B&A /PC yard office and then discontinued.
    I do remember there was often a meeting of the minds with IBM technicians and our best technicians to discuss whose equipment was causing issues, the IBM card punch and readers or the Teletype tape punch readers or tty machine. The Teletype machines were 28 ASR with keyboards. Tape punch and transmitter distributor readers. These all used the 5 Bit Baudot signal code. This code was in use before more complex codes such as 8 bit ASCII or the IBM codes that came along. My supervisor was a real ace on Teletype and often went out with technicians on these meetings. Of course this was in the days when many were promoted from the ranks because of what they knew and could pass on knowledge and help the newer guys in the crew.

    What I remember was that the IBM cards were punched stacked into a card reader which sent the into the Teletype network that went to different points on the New Haven that required this information such as consist reports and other reports. I can’t be more specific since I was new to all this at that time .Perhaps rereading the material will jog my memory

    I really enjoyed working on teletypes. I worked on the Model 28, 33, 35, 37 and few old model 15 or 19 machines. I found the electromechanical machines very interesting. The 28 Teletypes were my favorite machines As time passed I also worked on Model 40 terminals and printers as well as terminals and controllers from other companies.

    On the last night of service for a similar system for Pennsylvania Truck Lines I had to repair the 28 for one more report before we cut over to a model 40 system. PTL was the piggyback operator for PC.

    We also had Teletypes for other railroads, airlines, trucking companies, police, FAA, US weather, Mass DMV, etc. After Ma Bell was split I ended up installing and maintaining PC, printer and network communications equipment for NYNEX through Verizon corporate networks.
    Note it looks like the 1947 Teletype machines were earlier model equipment than what I worked on in the 1970s.
    Ron High


  3. Pingback: America’s Great Railroad System | The Arts Mechanical

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