The Cardmatic line of tube testers were introduced in the 1950s by the well known and respected test gear manufacturer Hickok.  They were unique in that instead of using massive numbers of switches, dials, and tube sockets, they used punched cards.  The idea was to save time and eliminate mistakes, and the idea worked.  This line of testers was also produced for the military and for Western Electric, and those are the ones we are most interested in.  Not only did they represent the state of the art in tube tester design, but they were also built like a tank, meant to survive a war.

The biggest problem with this tube tester concept was the cards themselves.  They were usually housed in a separate container the same size as the tester.  If a new tube came out and you wanted to be able to test it,  you had to order a card from Hickok (or figure out how to punch your own).  Eventually the tester lost some of its attractiveness because you found yourself having to use a second tester every time you didn't have the right card.  Over the years many surplus testers got orphaned from their card set and thus were rendered useless.  This is sad, because the tester itself is an ingenious design.

Imagine having on your test bench:

This would be a nice setup indeed for a test bench.  But all of this and more is contained within the Cardmatic tube tester.  Now, in the 21st century, we can add a computer to the bench and turn the Cardmatic into something much more than just a good tube tester.

More technical details about the Cardmatic can be found in the White PaperClick here for some pictures.