When Detective Varone begins to suspect Miriam he looks up her college record on an IBM System/360 model 40 and his suspicions are confirmed.
The detective "reads" a punched card as if it had writing on it.
Year of feature (shown above)
Punched cards often had the data on the card printed along the top, using a device called an interpreter:
Notice this card has its contents printed on it:
Hollereth Punch cards CAN and often DID have printing along the top edge.
Most key punch units like the IBM 029 would print what was punched into the card as you keyed in the data. This was used to verify that the card was punched as intended. Also, I got so I could read the combination of punches on a card that didn't have printing and could interpret what was on there. With practice anyone can read the hole patterns.
For a look at many cards check http://www.ibmjunkman.com