"half-dollar"/"50 cent piece" Was: Recovering the ROM of an IBM 5100 using OCR

Rich Alderson RichA at livingcomputers.org
Mon Jul 1 13:55:55 CDT 2019

From: Fred Cisin
Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2019 6:57 AM

On Sat, 29 Jun 2019, Liam Proven via cctalk wrote:

>> US currency is very confusing to me. All the notes seem to be the same size
>> and colour, so you can't readily sort them. I mean, I know America doesn't
>> believe in helping people when they're sick, but it wasn't until I visited
>> that I realised you saved up particular hatred for the blind and
>> partially-sighted and went out of your way to make life more difficult for
>> them.

> USA paper currency used to be the size of punchcards.  So, if one were to 
> have a LOT of it, you could use the same trays, and counting machines, 
> etc.  Do you suppose that Hollerith had a lot of paper currency?
> "If Hollerith were alive today, how many birthdays would he have had?" 
> requires being aware that 1900 was NOT a leap year.

Actually, Hollerith designed his card that size precisely so that storage
drawers for bank notes could be used.

>> You use nicknames for 2 denominations which most of us foreigners don't know
>> -- I still don't know which is a "nickel" (which is a metal to me) and which
>> is a "dime" (which is a Swedish chocolate-covered sweet bar, of which I'm
>> very fond but can't eat because I'm overweight).

> A "Dime" is one tenth of a dollar.  Or ten cents.  Or $10 worth of drugs.
> The coin is 17.91mm diameter, and the smallest coin in circulation.

The name comes from an old French coin (pre-Republic)

> A "Nickel" is five cents.  or $5 worth of drugs.
> The coin is 21.21mm, and is between a penny and a quarter in size.

The $0.05 coin is a nickel-copper alloy.  At one time, an easy way to
distinguish between US and Canadian nickels was that the nickel content in the
Canadian coin was higher, enough so that a magnet would pick them up.

In the 19th Century, $0.05 was a silver-copper alloy coin like the $0.10 dime,
$0.25 quarter, and $0.50 half dollar.  (The silver dollar was something like
0.997 pure silver.)  There was a nickel-copper $0.03 coin called, astonishingly
enough, a nickel.

> "Silver Dollar pancakes" are actually larger than a silver dollar, but 
> nobody complains.

>> And the base unit is a cent, but you call them "pennies", the base
>> unit of _my_ old country's currency, and you didn't even put the
>> symbol into ASCII.

Yes, "cent" because they were $0.01.  "Penny" because that was what the small
coins were called.  There was no need for ha'farthings, farthings, ha'pennies
in the Brave New Decimal Currency!

> Pennies used to be copper.  Now, they are mostly zinc, due to copper 
> costing more than a penny.  But, they managed to maintain the copper 
> color.  During WW2, pennies were briefly made out of steel.

Technically, they were bronze, a copper-tin alloy.

In 1943, at the height of the war, zinc-coated steel pennies were issued.
In 1944, there was a return to bronze, but the coins were a different color
because expended artillery shells were melted down for the metal, and had a
higher tin content.

> 6 decades ago, pennies said "One Cent" on the back, with pictures of 
> wheat; then they changed to a picture of the Lincoln memorial, which is at 
> the end of Memorial bridge in Washington, DC.

>From 1909 until 1959, the Lincoln penny had the wheat ears.

(The nifty thing about the image of the Lincoln Memorial is that on new enough
pennies one can see the statue of Lincoln in the center of the Memorial.)

Sometime in the 1970s, IIRC, pennies became copper (or bronze) coated aluminum.
Pennies will never stop being minted--the members of Congress representing the
state of Illinois would not stand for it.

Prior to 1909, for I forget how long and I'm not going to look it up, the
obverse of the penny had an image of an "Indian" head--which was actually the
image of the sculptor's daughter wearing a feather headdress.

OB vious:  Someone was an avid coin collector as a kid.


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