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Old office equipment

(27 Posts)
peaceatlast Sun 21-Aug-16 15:47:21

I was just thinking about how laborious the office tasks used to be in the 60s and 70s. Who remembers Gestetner machines and having to clean off your typewriter keys before you could type on a stencil?Not to mention the red fluid you had to paint on to cover a mistake. Then there were Banda machines, telex machines, the weekly cleaning of typewriter rollers with meths to keep them clean. Office work must be so much easier once you've mastered the computer. No faxing through documents or last minute trips to post an important letter. The franking machine too. I wonder if some of that still goes on. I used the Kalamazoo system every week to do the wages then wrote cheques or paid by cash into little buff envelopes and staff would line up for their wages. Sometimes luncheon vouchers too - 15p a day in 1972.
I don't know what made me think of that today but I had a little trip down memory lane.

Charleygirl Sun 21-Aug-16 15:54:48

All beyond me because I have never worked in an office.

I go to an optician who is a one man band. He has state of the art equipment for his use but the receptionists use pen and paper. They use the good old fashioned filing system so unless there is a fire, nothing will be lost.

peaceatlast Sun 21-Aug-16 16:02:49

I'm sure everything is backed up at the touch of a button when computers are used. It's many years since I worked in an office (the early 70s) but I can remember when I first started teaching in the early 80s, you had to type or hand write worksheets etc. Then beg to use the photocopier to duplicate them. We used to write our own class reports out too and hand them to the secretary but soon after that, everyone was expected to be skilled in typing and you had to do your own. I bet the secretary was relieved but it did cause stress to teachers who found typing difficult. I was lucky as I could type quickly, thankfully, but I did think it blurred the roles somewhat at the time. These days most people can type.

Willow500 Sun 21-Aug-16 16:09:42

When we first started in business I did the accounts in a double entry book and typed the invoices on a big old typewriter. I thought it was amazing when I got an electric typewriter that had an autocorrection ribbon in it and then the first huge computer which the accounts were done on. Fax machines became the new 'instant' communication method before e-mail and I then thought our son was mad installing a network so that we could e-mail each other from the adjacent offices! Now everything I do is online from accounts to banking to scheduling and communications and if someone asks me for a fax number have to say we don't have one! Meetings are done by video conferences so we don't even need to be in the same country. Everyone wants an instant answer and an out of office message on e-mail cuts no ice with anyone as they mail you anyway! In some ways it's made life easier but less interactive with others and with only a couple of years left to retirement I wonder what a virtual office of the future will look like.

overthehill Sun 21-Aug-16 16:10:38

Yes I have always done office work and remember the messy Gestetner machines. I was a shipping clerk for some time and the Bills of Lading were produced using the Gestener.

I went on to IBM golf ball typewriter as time went on and then came across the first, for me, PC in around 1995. It seemed very complicated at first and I remember the programme I used was called Topcopy, obsolete today I guess.

By the time I retired in 2012 I used Word, Excel and Powerpoint and have always loved the computer. I'd be hard pressed to use Powerpoint now as it was pretty complicated back then and I haven't touched it for years. I do spreadsheets though on Excel so keep my hand in there.

Penstemmon Sun 21-Aug-16 16:36:33

I visited Bletchley Park recently and what struck me was the amount of paper based information that had to be stored and sorted and then information retrieved all by hand. It was painstaking and meticulous work but quite monotonous I imagine and mostly done by bright and clever women who possible would have liked to be working on the more complex stuff the men were engaged in!

Greyduster Mon 22-Aug-16 09:21:13

I started my working life in the Army as a shorthand writer in the MOD. I was very good at shorthand but a lousy typist. So what did they do? Yes, they put me in the typing pool! We used to have to cut "skins" and mine, covered in pink dots, looked like they should be put into quarantine! We produced reports some of which were as thick as large paperback novels, and the pages had to be run off on a Gestetner machine (gosh they were messy!), laid out in a collating room, hand collated and then bound. We worked shifts, and this work was mostly carried out during the night. It was mind numbing, but we had a lot of laughs. I moved on from there to more interesting things! I always hated electric typewriters, but once I got my hands on a word processor there was no holding me. In my later my job as a practice manager in the nineties I was responsible for sourcing and buying the computers and photocopying machinery for my company. They are now the most amazing machines and how I wish we had had them in the sixties. Like Willow I also wonder how much further office technology has left to go!

kittylester Mon 22-Aug-16 09:52:13

I started work in a bank and used a massive Sumlock posting machine. Two of us would post debits and credits to accounts - one did the bank ledger copy and one did the customer statement and each set had to balance or we had to spend ages finding the error. Before posting we sorted cheques and credit slips alphabetically but it was before pre-printed cheques so we had to rely on knowing the signature!

When I went onto the counter we used Sumlock adding machines which were the size of a small TV and had a handle that had to be pulled down after each item.

One manager could add up rows of figures in his head and another manager who could be heard snoring behind his closed office door.

Once, we stayed until 11pm when the branch was 1d wrong.

MiniMouse Mon 22-Aug-16 10:09:52

I remember, for one part of my first job, having to use the extra-long platen on my hefty, old, manual typewriter in order to type out reams of accounts. My right biceps was much more Popeye than my leftt grin

Margsus Mon 22-Aug-16 10:38:53

I was a legal secretary for all of my working life, and in the early days (late 60s to early 70s) I remember engrossing leases on my new electric typewriter using thick parchment paper with red lines to mark the margins, then sewing them up using a very large needle and red legal tape.....seems like a lifetime ago!

Auntieflo Mon 22-Aug-16 11:03:51

I started out as a comptometer operator, in shipping insurance. How easy it is now with computers, but I quite loved my Sumlock comptometer.

NonnaW Mon 22-Aug-16 11:30:26

As office junior I remember doing the punch cards for the wages, which were sent to on don for processing. I then got promoted to doing bought ledger on a huge accounting machine (I can't remember the name of it) which was extremely loud. I also remember spending hours trying to find the error if things didn't balance at the end of the month.

I also remember the auditors who used to come every year from a company in London - I had a massive crush on the younger one but was so shy I used to blush if he even looked at me!

wot Mon 22-Aug-16 11:31:49

Peace, I used to operate a Banda machine......hideous!

wot Mon 22-Aug-16 11:33:28

And a comptometer....I once gave a bloke £7 instead of £70 in his wages. Goodbye to that job! It was good how they taught you to hold a pencil as you added up, though!

Greyduster Mon 22-Aug-16 11:49:10

I had a temporary job in a large Building Society in the early eighties and practically nothing was computerised. They went over to computers just as I was leaving after my year's tenure (I was told later that this momentous shift in practice didn't suit everyone and there was a lot of voting with feet). I then moved onto another firm where everything was paper-based (not deliberately, it just happened that way) except the accounts function.

JackyB Mon 22-Aug-16 13:10:42

I come from a family of secretaries and legal secretaries and my mother left her job just as the computer was introduced.

Once retired, however, she learned to use a computer and got very adept at it - she has a mathematical brain, and if my father-in-law hadn't been a mathemetician, I would have said my sons got their engineering minds from her.

It's hard to imagine using manual typewriters these days - remember counting the letters to centre a header?

kittylester Mon 22-Aug-16 13:20:53

I'd forgotten that jacky! It was a nightmare.

peaceatlast Mon 22-Aug-16 14:41:52

Did you used to have a company (our's was a lady in a brown uniform), come round each week to clean the office phones? I can still remember the smell of the cleaning fluid she used and the heavy bar she put on the phone cradle to enable it still to ring while she was cleaning the handset and uncurling the flex to clean that too. I worked in a 'factor's office' in Glasgow in the late 60s/early 70s and most people used public transport so that must have been how she got round all the offices she covered. I wonder if such a job still exists. I'm sure it was a large company.

boheminan Mon 22-Aug-16 14:57:24

peaceatlast when I left school in the 1960's to work in an office, I remember the telephone lady coming every Friday to clean all the phones, and she wore a brown uniform but I hope it wasn't the same lady because as I worked in the South East, she'd have had a hell of a journey down from Glasgowgrin.

I also remember using an Addressograph-Multigraph machine to stamp out addresses on envelopes - but the highlight of the day would be if I was sent to the Telex room to send a telex - it's where all us 'girls' would gather for a natter...

kittylester Mon 22-Aug-16 15:22:48

We had a telephone man! I liked making addressograph thingies!

Greyduster Mon 22-Aug-16 15:33:27

And having to set tab stops for columns. 😊

Grannyknot Mon 22-Aug-16 16:19:56

Going even further back - my mother worked on a Hollerith (punch card) machine, and then later, for a short time, so did I shock how I even remembered its name is a miracle.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Hollerith

grandma60 Mon 22-Aug-16 16:24:16

This is bringing back so many memories.I did the accounts for the company I worked for in the 70s on an NCR accounting machine, It looked a bit like a giant typewriter and was very noisy. At the end of each month the ledgers had to be balanced as as someone else said, it was quite usual to spend hours looking for 1d. Later on the accounts were computerized. We for sent on a course at the Kalamazoo Computor Centre in Birmingingham. There we were shown how to produce tapes from a machine that looked like an adding machine. They were collected from our office in Somerset and taken to Birmingham by Securicor. The printouts were sent back to us as pyjama paper.
The computer in Birmingham took up the space of a small supermarket and was looked after by men in white coats with dust covers on their shoes.! None of us imagined that a few years afterwards we would have computers in our homes!

Grannyknot Mon 22-Aug-16 17:53:02

How things have changed. I worked until recently in an office where we had to "hot desk" - the PC term for it is "agile working". And along with that is "Clear Desk Policy" - a rather large document which basically means that you can't put your "stuff" around you on your desk and make it your own! Everyone hates hot desking, I've yet to come across anyone who likes it. And people go to the same "hot desk" every time despite having a choice of a whole row of places to sit. grin Humans like their own space, don't they?

I'm so glad I'm not involved in working in an office any more. The latest thing, just as I was leaving was standing and working - at great expense desks that can be lowered or put to standing height were brought in.

Greyduster Mon 22-Aug-16 18:08:52

Do you know what the thinking behind 'standing and working' was, Grannyknot? I think it sounds bizarre!