A punched card is a storage medium. It contains information in the form of holes, that are at precise locations on the card. In the 19th century, punched cards were widely used to control machines, such as looms and for census. Fairground organs and related instruments still use punched cards, as do some voting machines.
Herman Hollerith invented the recording of data on a medium that could then be read by a machine.
Punched cards used in a Jacquard loom