As a kid, I remember him coming home with IBM style punch cards. He was putting the cards into something that looks like a money counting machine. It was pretty fast and noisy, I remember being fascinated by it. His computer room was filled with a huge, 3-rack, communist-block designed computer, with 256KB of RAM and 60MB of HDD. The HDD was as large as a washing machine and took 2 minutes to spin up from cold start. The actual data discs were interchangeable (so the disk itself was spinning in regular air, not in void).
That is/was the punch card reader, with a metallic hair-comb like contraption (each prong of which was presumably connected to some sort of opto-coupler or a similar sensory component) for sensing the holes in the cards as they would pass under it at high speeds. As a kid, I used to have a lot of fun watching that in operation at my dad's office.
He used to write code (COBOL and Fortran) by hand on those graph paper-like coding sheets, then hand the sheets over to a 'specialist' card punching machine operator (I remember they used to have special courses for that too) who would punch the cards and so it went... :-)