The U.S. Census is very much in the news these days, and for good reasons. The final specifications for the 2020 census are often in the news. It reminds me of the controversy about the 1960 U.S. Census.
For years I have heard stories about the 1960 U.S. Census. The stories vary a bit on each telling but usually say something like, “The 1960 U.S. Census was stored on a computer media for which there no longer was any equipment to read it. The census data has been lost because of the change in technology.”
I always doubted that story. I was just starting my career in computers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and I remember well the tape drives of that era. Since I am familiar with both the old and the new technologies involved, I decided to investigate the 1960 census story.