This is Type 57B, a 1969 Ford Thunderbird 4-door Landau with a bucket seat interior.

1969 Thunderbird 4-door Landau

Analyzing a Ford Passenger Basic Broadcast Card

(Vehicle Order Card)

Computers were first used by Ford Motor Company to assist with the planning, production and tracking of car and truck builds in the late '50s. Evidence of this can be seen in the computer-generated build or broadcast or ROT sheets that some fortunate owners find stuffed in various locations of the interior of their cars. One of the subsequent tools used by Ford in the '60s was the computer punch card. These cards allowed Ford to code 36 different bits of information (26 letters and 10 numbers) into only 12 spaces. This information was used to present the Vehicle Order Image (VOI), which includes data like the VIN and production codes, some important dates, all of the option content of the vehicle, the ordering dealership number, etc.   Knowing the VIN and production codes (BODY, COLOR, TRIM, DATE, DSO, AXLE and TRANS) for these cars, we can back-calculate the punch protocol for the computer punch cards.

The computer punch card is divided into 80 columns and 12 rows. This is a 1967 Ford Passenger Car Basic Broadcast Card.   The 80 columns are clearly labeled along the bottom of the card, while the last 10 rows are shown along the right-hand edge of the card.

The columns indicate the items in the VOI, while the rows indicate the following:

Row 1: 1st Position

Row 2: 2nd Position

Row 3: 3rd Position or 0

Row 4: 1 or A, J

Row 5: 2 or B, K, S

Row 6: 3 or C, L, T

Row 7: 4 or D, M, U

Row 8: 5 or E, N, V

Row 9: 6 or F, O, W

Row 10: 7 or G, P, X

Row 11: 8 or H, Q, Y

Row 12: 9 or I, R, Z

A number is indicated by a punch in Row 3 through 12 that contains the desired number. From the table above, Row 3 = 0, Row 4 = 1, Row 5 = 2, ..., Row 10 = 7, Row 11 = 8, and Row 12 = 9.

A letter is indicated by 1) a punch in Row 4 through 12 that contains the desired letter and 2) a punch in Rows 1 through 3 that indicates the position that the letter occupies in the string of 3 letters in part a). From the table above, Row 4 & Row 1 = A, Row 5 & Row 1 = B, Row 6 & Row 1 = C, ..., Row 10 & Row 3 = X, Row 11 & Row 3 = Y, and Row 12 & Row 3 = Z.

The VIN of 9Y87N108637 is therefore represented by the following punches, moving from Column 1 through Column 11 on the IBM punch card codes:

Row 12 (9), Row 11 & Row 3 (Y), Row 11 (8), Row 10 (7), Row 8 & Row 2 (N), Row 4 (1), Row 3 (0), Row 11 (8), Row 9 (6), Row 6 (3), Row 10 (7).

A piece of a Ford Passenger Basic Broadcast Card in Forestburg, South Dakota on October 3, 2003. We were able to determine that the card was from a 1969 Thunderbird 4-door Landau, having the VIN 9Y87N108637. The car became Thunderbird Registry Number 11306.  

Further analysis of the card determined that Registry Number 11306 is body style code 57B, is color X, has trim 1B, was scheduled for production on date 23J, was initiated through ordering district 16, has axle O, and has transmission U. A complete breakdown of these codes is found on RN 11306's data sheet, linked above. A scan of that piece of broadcast card is also linked to the data sheet.

Registry Number 11306 is  similar to the 1969 Thunderbird 4-door Landau shown above.


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