Re: That farmer...
" I don't think they ever found all the cards."
Operators loading a high speed card reader would take a handful of cards out of the user's tray at a time. The speed of loading depended on how big a handful was taken. There was a critical thickness where the uneven pressure of fingers on one edge of the pack would suddenly squeeze the centre ones out. In a chain reaction the rest would follow - all over the floor. It was then a case of reading the numbers to get the pack back in order. Usually the number was printed on the card - but sometimes a user had hand punched one.
Worse still was when the back end of a full tray was balanced over the edge of the work surface. As the cards were removed from the front of the tray the tipping point would suddenly be reached. The whole tray would somersault to the ground - scattering its contents across the floor.
One very high speed card reader had vertical hoppers. There was a heavy block to stop the cards as they reached the output hopper. The block allowed the cards to accumulate into a vertical stack underneath it. When the reader stopped - the block was removed so that the read cards could be extracted. Forgetting to put the block in the hopper before pressing start would result in a veritable fountain of flying cards.