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Old 04-05-2015, 02:07 PM   #21
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It sounds idyllic and indeed I was lucky to have such a positive early working experience. I proved my worth by working hard. But I still remember the smoking, particularly in the coffee room. Ugh!
I'd forgotten about the smoking because no one did in the offices I worked. My first job in industry, '73 to '79 I worked in an office with 7 other men, we each had our own desk. One guy was a smoker but he always went outside to smoke.

'79 - '85 I worked in an office with 5 other men and not one of them smoked. Guess I was lucky considering the times.

Although computers were a big part of our jobs, it was all technical computing, and no terminals on our desks. In both jobs we had a typing pool where our letters were sent for typing. An office worker used to come around several times a day to deliver internal and external mail, including to and from the typing pool.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:19 PM   #22
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Before IT was big, manufacturing was. Before computer machinery, engineer types gravitated toward other machines, either building them or designing them. For example, autos and aeronautics were hot fields during the '50s into the '60s.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:22 PM   #23
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First job was w*rking for a company named Solitron, running hot mica press for encapsulating diodes. 40 per tray, 500 degree clamps, with a hole in middle, pour in a cup of powdery substance, hit two more buttons, a plunger would press ths stuff and distribute it. One rack every 4 minutes. Behind me was a bench with two women testing diodes. One at a time in a simple fixture. Go no Go lights. I think their job sucked more than mine.

So it was a fancy slant panel desk attached to a large hot press, with many buttons timers, lights. I lasted about thre months at this office job.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:32 PM   #24
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I'd forgotten about the smoking because no one did in the offices I worked. My first job in industry, '73 to '79 I worked in an office with 7 other men, we each had our own desk. One guy was a smoker but he always went outside to smoke.

'79 - '85 I worked in an office with 5 other men and not one of them smoked. Guess I was lucky considering the times.
I'll say you were lucky. My second IT job the guy in the cube behind me smoked a pipe. Constantly. I didn't really mind smoke so much back then, although it bothers me now. But sometimes I could barely see to the other side of my 6 foot wide cubicle.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:38 PM   #25
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If you worked for the government...don't forget multiple carbon copies and rubber stamping paperwork thru the paperwork maze of departmental approvals. There was always ink stamp pads in black and red ink and a little metal revolving rubber stamp holder on your desk. Punch cards were used for inventory control. Yuk!


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Old 04-05-2015, 02:40 PM   #26
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Started programming for big aerospace in 1979. Worked mostly alone all day, FORTRAN assembly and machine code. Almost no meetings, overtime only when paid, pretty relaxing.

Retired 27 years later from financial industry. Very little had changed. Wore shorts instead of jeans, still bicycled to work most days, still very low stress.

Key decision - never let yourself get promoted. The poor managers were worked much harder than us programmers.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:45 PM   #27
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I'll say you were lucky. My second IT job the guy in the cube behind me smoked a pipe. Constantly. I didn't really mind smoke so much back then, although it bothers me now. But sometimes I could barely see to the other side of my 6 foot wide cubicle.
That was exactly how it was in our house growing up before I left home in '73. Both parents were heavy smokers, big "dirty" coal fire in an open grate to heat the house and I smoked with my mates outside in secret, but after I started going to grammar school at age 11 none of my new school friends smoked so I immediately stopped.

I was sooooo lucky that my workplaces were pretty much devoid of smokers.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:46 PM   #28
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Key decision - never let yourself get promoted. The poor managers were worked much harder than us programmers.
That was my choice too. I followed whatever technical path I could, but refused to go into management. It wasn't so much the work in my case as it was the observation that when the RIFs came the managers got massacred, since they didn't really produce that much. It was easy to get rid of a couple managers, combine the groups under the one remaining manager. Of course, in a couple of years there's be too many chiefs again and they'd do it again. It worked for me. I enjoyed my work, and didn't have to deal with the stuff like evaluations and such. And towards the end of my career I was making significantly more than the people I was working for. That was fun.
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:10 PM   #29
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There were many multi part forms and typewriters. A telephone on the desk. Clerks would type information on the forms and hand carry to,different departments during the day. Managers would make reports of what to manufacture or what to ship to a customer.
There were expeditors that just chased down shortages and delays. There was adding machines for,totaling accounting numbers and big green pads for doing manual spread sheets in pencil.
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:30 PM   #30
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I started work in 1963 as an attorney working in the client area of a bank trust department. The top officers of the department had private offices and the rest of us were in an open carpeted area with executive type desks and an additional chair for meeting with clients.

The desk had nothing on it other than a telephone and a large ash tray. I smoked at the time, as did most others, and we were free to smoke whenever and wherever we wished. We had access to a steno pool of four girls, each with an electric typewriter on which they made several carbon copies. I was a little more advanced than some, and I dictated all my correspondence into a dictating machine and gave the tape and relevant material to the pool. Many of the other officers wrote out their letters by hand and gave them to the pool. In the back office there was one claculator, the type where the numbers spun mechanically. Of course, there were no computers, cell phones, pagers or any electronic devices. Also, copy machines were just coming into being and the bank had one on each floor that was carefully controlled by an employee to make sure you didn't do personal things on it. Many printings were done on mimeograph machines and punch cards were still in use.

In the 1970's I became head of a trust office and my predecessor had prevailed upon the bank to purchase an electronic calculator for his desk which only did basic math and cost about $400. I had the only one in the bank. It was about the size of a large book.

It wasn't until the 1980's when the office I was in acquired a desk top computer to be shared by all. Very few of us used it at the time. I often was out of the office calling on clients or developing new business and there was no way I could be reached without calling in. Smoking was still allowed at our desks and it wasn't until the '90's when this began to be prohibited.

By the time I retired in 1998 email was becoming into more common use and most employees had a computer terminal at their desk. Our boss could no longer smoke his cigars in the office and cell phones were coming into general use. I'm glad I retired before it became more complicated.
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:31 PM   #31
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............and I smoked with my mates outside in secret, but after I started going to grammar school at age 11 none of my new school friends smoked so I immediately stopped.
At age 11+ where I lived in New England is when most school-age boys started smoking.
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:34 PM   #32
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At age 11+ where I lived in New England is when most school-age boys started smoking.
Fortunately under age 11 I had so little money I couldn't smoke very many
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:40 PM   #33
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Fortunately under age 11 I had so little money I couldn't smoke very many
Please see post 18
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:01 PM   #34
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Please see post 18
And I expect that I am the only one on this thread that was actually working in Yorkshire during this time period
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:07 PM   #35
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Good stuff! it's fun to read your stories from the gone years. There's no doubt that technology has made our lives easier overall. However, I think folks directly managing technology have a more stressful life only because a system down for even 10mins is unacceptable. IT technology is no longer considered a nice-to-have but a necessity. It's amazing when I see even large companies that don't have business continuity plans in the event of a large IT outage but that's another topic altogether.

My other question that only a few answered was what other professions were in-demand and big back then, someone mentioned manufacturing which in many cases seems to have shifted off-shore nowadays. Another I heard was franchises and banking.
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What was it like going to work in the 60s, 70s and 80s?
Old 04-05-2015, 04:08 PM   #36
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What was it like going to work in the 60s, 70s and 80s?

I think 1987 through around 1996 or so was a very major change in office and work productivity and structure in USA -

Caused primarily the ushering in of truly personal (one pc per worker) computing - word processing, spreadsheets, personal email and other IT advancements drove productivity and caused lots of layoffs. Later in that decade of time came access to the world wide web at work, a shift in mentality to casual Friday's, conversations on work-life balance and flex time, awareness of sexual harassment, no smoking in the office, cubicles instead of individual offices, and a big reduction in folded and perforated paper !!!!

I recall that manufacturing was the "industry" to be in back then - production line work, engineering, product planning, plant management, accounting - there were many more administrative or data processing oriented jobs that paid a living wage. Fewer "service jobs" as we know them today. Every step of every job was more manual, less instant-real time, and more prone to inaccuracy. Jobs tended to be about producing something physical versus some intellectual property or virtual computer code or paper financial transactions or robot-produced cars.

Finance was mostly banking loans and maybe retail brokerage houses - stock trading was for "the rich". and heavily commission based and u paid a hefty commission - Now anyone can trade online for 5 bucks per trade etc etc. .

Retirement meant 35 years at same company and a defined benefit pension at the other side. That was quickly going away and the rise of the IRA and 401k happened in the mid-late 1980s it seems

Of course there are still lawyers and doctors and teachers and nurses and firemen and police men (and women) and retail and restaurant and accountants, sales and marketers, mechanics, etc.
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:23 PM   #37
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I cleaning out some boxes recently, I came across pages of joke stories. Before the internet, people would route the joke stories on paper to groups of their co-workers, instead of emailing them now. Speaking of routing, I also found documents with 'routing slips' on them. These were to pass information your bosses wanted you to read amongst the staff.
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:31 PM   #38
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But I still remember the smoking, particularly in the coffee room. Ugh!
Oh yes, the smoking. I once worked in an large office full of drafting tables with minimal partitions and people smoked cigarettes at their desks. all day. This was in the 1980's. I don't miss that.
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:35 PM   #39
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You could stop for for a few beers and drive yourself home.
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:40 PM   #40
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You could watch Mad Men....
For the 60's and early 70's, exactly. I started watching the show Mad Men, and the tone and ambiance of the show so accurately reminded me of that work culture that I never made it past episode 4. I don't need to be reminded of the bad old days. I spent most of my early working career in the late 70's and 80's fighting with those type guys to try to get out with the old and in with the new. They were a stubborn lot.

edit: the only thing that saved me from being an organizational pariah was when Peter Drucker and his ilk came along, because that style of organizational philosophy seemed to make the last of the 'mad men' in my organization want to retire as soon as they could.
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