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Old 04-05-2015, 08:12 PM   #61
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In 1976 I was hired by an Office Machine Repair Company. They taught us how to repair IBM Selectric Typewriters, and I would visit the offices that called into my company with problems.

It was great because I wasn't in the same place all day, and could set my own schedule etc.

These typewriters were everywhere on every desk much like computers today.
It was also a very in demand position and I was never out of work due to the shortage of people that could repair them.

This eventually evolved into computer repair, and now I work In IT for Hewlett Packard doing Software support.
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:31 PM   #62
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Few things I recall starting my engineering job at a huge aerospace company in 1987:
1. Large room with desks and no divider walls or cubicles, approx 100 engrs in there. Managers had real offices.
2. Shared a phone between myself and another engineer, we took messages for each other, no voice mail back then.
3. Reports were hand written by me, then typed on Wang word processors by secretaries - all of which were female. Any photos for the reports were glued in and arrows drawn on by hand to point out details to go with the captions.
4. My desk had a bookcase at the end and a topper shelf along the front, that was the extent of my personal space.
5. Wore a tie to work usually 3 out of 5 days, with Fri always being a no tie day.
6. Smoking had just been eliminated from office areas.
7. Fax machines were not around yet.
8. Jokes on paper, most time many generations of copy so it was blurry and crooked.
9. Engineering drawings were paper hand drawn and copies were blueprints.

Probably more I can think of, but at the time it was a great job and I liked working there.
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:50 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
Few things I recall starting my engineering job at a huge aerospace company in 1987:
1. Large room with desks and no divider walls or cubicles, approx 100 engrs in there. Managers had real offices.
2. Shared a phone between myself and another engineer, we took messages for each other, no voice mail back then.
3. Reports were hand written by me, then typed on Wang word processors by secretaries - all of which were female. Any photos for the reports were glued in and arrows drawn on by hand to point out details to go with the captions.
4. My desk had a bookcase at the end and a topper shelf along the front, that was the extent of my personal space.
5. Wore a tie to work usually 3 out of 5 days, with Fri always being a no tie day.
6. Smoking had just been eliminated from office areas.
7. Fax machines were not around yet.
8. Jokes on paper, most time many generations of copy so it was blurry and crooked.
9. Engineering drawings were paper hand drawn and copies were blueprints.

Probably more I can think of, but at the time it was a great job and I liked working there.
Pretty close to my hiring in observations at MegaMotors in 1981 except:
3) No word processors - secretaries typed and engineers did cut and paste
5) Suits and ties everyday except Saturday, even when visiting dirty assembly plants
6) Smoking still allowed - constant mini-wars and fans strategically placed to redirect smoke

Mechanics still had calendars with naked women on open display

Separate dining and bath rooms for mid and higher management.

Indoor exec. management parking with lackies that washed and gassed the cars daily while engineers worked on cars outside in the parking lot
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:56 PM   #64
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I started work at an engineering firm (civil dept) in 1974. We didn't use computers - just slide rules and calculators. We had to be careful not to connect too many calculators to the same extension cord because the calculators would light up less lcd bars in the display if voltage was down. And that led to some incorrect calculations.

We also had a weird mimeograph type copying machine that spewed purple stuff. Also had an ammonia fume blueprint machine. Typing was done on typewriters by the secretaries. Draftsmen drew the plans by hand in pencil on paper. Our surveyors measured with steel tapes. Not much technology, but a great way to learn the fundamentals.
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Old 04-05-2015, 09:42 PM   #65
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Naturally I used a slide rule at college, because calculators costs thousands in those days. Only one student had one, a foreign student from India who I presume was from a very wealthy family. And he had to sit in the front row of the inorganic chemistry lecture hall, so that he could plug it in!

For the job that I took to work my way through college I had to use an adding machine like this one:




There was no desk; it was on a narrow table, maybe 1'x3', with no drawers. The manual typewriter was on a typewriter stand like this one.



There was a file cabinet with the telephone on top of it, and one entire wall was just open cubbyholes for more storage. By the door there was a tiny table with an in/out basket. That about covers it.
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What was it like going to work in the 60s, 70s and 80s?
Old 04-05-2015, 09:57 PM   #66
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What was it like going to work in the 60s, 70s and 80s?

Never had a job involving a desk until the 80s...

The first computerized "thing" I remember dealing with was a metal shearing machine, circa 1979. Funny, the factory only had one; all the rest involved two people swirling and twirling large sheets of metal by hand, hitting the "stops", then making the cut by hitting the pedal. But because it was "computer-controlled, apparently work rules dictated a higher hourly wage. :-)

Well, and maybe an adding machine.

I remember, and occasionally used, a mimeograph machine to print church programs, to help earn my"God and Country Award" in Boy Scouts. Apparently didn't take...

First round of college was slide rule and typewriter. Thank heavens for calculators and computers!

Megaconglomocorp, circa 1983, involved Herman Miller, with a smattering of Steelcase. I did have an 10x10 highwall cell, er, office, for a few years. Started with VAX dumb terminal, went to UNIX dumb terminal, and finally to the dark side, Windows... Also had a multi-line phone, and access to dept. network printers, copiers, and fax machine.

Current "office" is the ubiquitous modular furniture, with a phone, desktop, and copier/printer, with two file drawers and a "flipper". (Two turntables and a microphone?)

So, not exactly describing the proverbial corner office...
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Old 04-05-2015, 10:15 PM   #67
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Great thread, everyone!

I began working in an office in 1985, so I saw the beginning of what would be a large transformation in how offices operated. I worked in the actuarial field, a field which in 1988 was ranked as #1 overall in some jobs rated almanac even though it did not finish #1 in any of the individual categories.

When I began, there were very few individual cubicles and offices, only for the management (or used for storage). Desks often faced those of coworkers with only bookcases and cabinets acting as partial partitions between our desks. We underlings had shared phone lines while the management had their own phone lines. To make long distance calls, we had this Wats system where you would enter some codes and hang up and wait a minute or so for the system to call you back. When you answered, the system would call the number you chose. Whoever was making a Wats call would always announce, "Wats call!" when it called you back so your phone-mate or someone else would not answer it. Pretty crude. No voice mail. No call-pickup, either, although that was coming soon.

My area ordered and reviewed insurance reports from our Data Services (DS) area. I was luck to have just missed the days when we would fill out these "control cards" which were really a few (or, sometimes, many more) sheets of paper with codes representing what we wanted in the reports. This had become more "modern" so we entered these control cards electronically on our mainframe system which were then captured by the DS folks. The reports we received were on continuous-feed paper and on copies of microfiche which was often tough to read on a microfiche viewer. We had 2 or 3 of those in my small work sub-unit of 5 people within our 15-person division. We still had to send a memo to DS to order the reports although I would soon devise a way to speed up that slow process.

We had routing slips and a separate Word Processing in/out boxes for most memos or other documents. We had several of those mainframe terminals scattered around the floor with the green, eye-straining display on black background. There were a few PCs (far fewer than the mainframe ones) scattered around the division, some connected to printers, some not. The diskettes were those old ~5" floppy ones but the smaller ~3" ones were just coming into play around that time. It was cumbersome to write our own memos but we did them anyway.

The printers were all dot-matrix including our mainframe one but soon we got more laserjets for PC and mainframe use. One guy, our division's official computer wiz, had a PC which could handle both PC and mainframe so if we needed to download or upload between the two, we went to his work area, separate from his desk.

In 1986, they did some reconstruction on my floor to create primitive cubicles to mostly separate us from our coworkers. It also separated the small work unit from each other. But the aisles were narrow so we felt like rats in a maze. If we had visitors from another floor or from outside the company visiting us, they often could not find us even we told them how to find us beforehand. I had some shorter file cabinets and bookshelves surrounding my desk so I was a little easier to find.

Smoking was permitted but thankfully nobody in my small work unit smoked. A few others in my division and in the other 2 divisions on our floor did but I didn't have the foul air drifting near me.

I used a large binder clip attached to a bookcase to hang up my coat.Among our office supplies were white-out fluid and 3 sizes of white tape for the many cut-and-paste jobs we often had to do.
In 1988, I devise a way to more efficiently order reports from DS.In a mainframe file, we would put our requests into a file that would automatically be printed at 4 AM in the DS area, a building 50 miles away after they moved there in 1986.That printout was delivered to the DS people.This worked well because they got to work earlier than we did so they often ran the reports and had them in our interoffice mail by the time we got there around 9 AM.This was our primitive, limited version of email although nobody had invented the word in the late 1980s.

I switched to another division in 1989 which had a similar layout from my old one except it wasnít like a ratís maze.A larger division, more people had their own cubicles while we underlings shared large cubicles of 4 people. I would later get my own cubicle for a few months before the company soon relocated to another location in lower Manhattan.More laser printers were arriving but we did not have our own terminals, mainframe or PC, until that last cubicle I had for a few months.It wasnít connected to a printer, though.In this division, there were separate bullpen areas with 3 to 8 terminals, some mainframe, some PC.We also had an early version of office email on the mainframe but it was available only to management for the first few years.

We had a few more smokers on this floor but I wasnít sitting near them until I had my own cubicle.There were some small fans to blow the smoke away from me.The phones were getting a little more advanced, as call pick-up was added to our system.Still no voice mail.

Then in 1991 we moved to another building in lower Manhattan.It was much better than what we left behind.First, no smoking.The phones didnít have voice mail right away but that soon was added.No caller-ID, though.We did have 3-way calling and call-forwarding/transferring.We didnít have mainframe terminals or PCs on our desks but some of us (including me) did with in a year.Each cubicle had some file drawers and overhead bins which was a huge improvement.All printers were laserjets and they were soon linked to our PCs, once everyone had one, using systemizers, an early version of a LAN.

Once everyone had a PC which also had mainframe, we soon had a PC-based email system (Microsoft Exchange a n early version of Outlook).Another big change was the end of producing the bulk of our reports on paper and microfiche.That was now sent electronically and read on screen.By 1993, we had our first Windows-based PCs instead of the old DOS ones.Along with that, we used Word and Excel for the first time, replacing Displaywrite and Lotus although I kept using Lotus a lot for the rest of the 1990s.

Casual Fridays began one summer in the mid-1990s.It gradually expanded to Casual Fridays all year round, then Casual Summer then by 1998 the whole formal dress code (shirt, tie, nice shoes for us men) was abolished.

My companyís benefits package became more generous in the 1990s although the standard work week expanded from 35 to 37.5 hours.In the early 1990s, the company match on the 401k increased from 50% to 75%.In 1997, we went from not-for-profit to for-profit and the ESOP was born, the same ESOP I was able to retire on.So for a few years (my peak earnings years), I had a pension, a 401k with a nice match, and a fast-growing ESOP.

Yes, the good old days.
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Old 04-05-2015, 10:21 PM   #68
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Never had a job involving a desk until the 80s...
Yeah, most of mine up to then involved either a lawnmower or a spatula.

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Current "office" is the ubiquitous modular furniture, with a phone, desktop, and copier/printer, with two file drawers and a "flipper". (Two turntables and a microphone?)
"Iíve been rockin' since the 1900s, a microphone and two 1200's"
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Old 04-06-2015, 12:33 AM   #69
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Before I went to medical school at the age of 27 in 1978 I had many office jobs beginning from the age of 16. And since I typed 85 wpm secretarial-type jobs got me through college, grad school and beyond.

I remember being so happy when the correcting Selectric typewriter came out so that I wouldn't need to use white-out or stick those chalky papers in between the type ball and the paper. One of my 1st jobs involved handing out money at a financing company and I had a big manual calculator in about 1969. Another job in an accounting office for a talent management agency involved data punch cards for hours of data entry. Then I had a job in college assisting a convention director. We had a separate typewriter for typing up the badges for the participants. We all smoked, in fact that's where I learned to smoke, but I gave that up at age 20. Many other office jobs, filing papers with numerous finger cuts, taking messages on phones that had many buttons for 'hold,' 'transfer.' etc. on little pink papers that said, "while you were out." Fun and games.

In about 1980 when I was in med school my then husband was in audio-video engineering but was switching to IT. He rigged up a phone line from his office computer to our home computer which of course he built and programmed, and we had a dedicated phone line for it. At least he could work at home sometimes but he had to get to work at 6 AM to set up all the machines.

I got my first cell phone in 1995 because the minute I left the hospital my pager would go off and getting off a highway in NYC to try to find a pay phone and park the car was getting old. I longed for the day when they would make one device so I didn't have to carry around an appointment book and later a Palm Pilot, a clipboard, a phone and a pager. That's my iPhone now.

Thanks for the memories.


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Old 04-06-2015, 03:12 AM   #70
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What I want to know is did anybody have a job like Don Drapers in the 1960s? Man that guy seems to get more woman in week at work than I do in decade.
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Old 04-06-2015, 06:21 AM   #71
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I wasn't in IT in the 70s. My desk looked a lot like today's except instead of a computer I had a legal sized pad of yellow, ruled paper. I had an overflowing ash tray with a pack of cigarettes and matches sitting next to it. IT was a mysterious data center two floors down where Norm, a NASA look alike engineer with a pocket protector, held sway. Norm's wife became one of my employees 25 years later when I switched to IT.
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Old 04-06-2015, 06:54 AM   #72
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I remember in the 80s smoking was allowed at your desk. You would see a layer of smoke over the whole floor.

We had 3270 green terminals to get info from the main system. No cubicles, only long tables. Only management had private offices.
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Old 04-06-2015, 06:59 AM   #73
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Interesting thread.

I remember having a conversation with a guy who started at Arthur Andersen (the public accounting firm, now defunct) in the 60s. He said they still had to wear top hats when coming to and leaving the office.

He said that they had almost completely disappeared by then except for older gentlemen in a handful of professions. But the accounting profession was conservative and the partner he worked for insisted they wear them.
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Old 04-06-2015, 07:07 AM   #74
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Started in late 70 as an electrical engineer designing analog integrated circuit. Calculations or simulations were primarily performed on mainframe via dumb terminal. Basic calculations were done with a HP 67 calculator. There were cubes with a desk and phone line - pretty much as it is today without the Ethernet port or WiFi network. All reports were prepared by a secretary using IBM Selectric typewriters until mid 80s where PC on became available. I think we started with Wang word processor prior to the widespread of using PC. I switched career designing disk drive controller. The company was proud developing a "small" disk drive with large capacity (100 MB). It was huge, by today's standard, "20"x "20" x "30" (W x L x H). Nowadays, a typical drive is in the Terra byte range in small footprint. I still use my HP67 calculator once in a while as it is still useful. I do not think I would go back of using an electric typewriter because of frequent mistakes and revisions.
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Old 04-06-2015, 08:08 AM   #75
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My first job in the early 70's was in Manufacturing as a Material Control Analyst. We had to schedule production for the plant and order all the required raw materials and assemblies. Computerized Material Requirements Planning was new and we didn't have our own computer. Every two weeks we sent punched cards to Control Data to have our MRP reports run. Every other Monday you were given these huge reports which showed the next two weeks production plan and all inventories. Any changes to the plan had to be written on your report. Inventory counts were off by the end of the first day. To order materials we had cards by part number that had to be filled out and sent to purchasing department. Even though my position was entry level, I had two assistants to keep up with all the paperwork. Because of part shortages, we had to work Saturday overtime to try to meet the schedules. We sat in what we called the ring because it was me and the foreman who was mad at me because of part shortages. The thing I remember most was making graphs for meetings with graph paper, pen, and ruler.
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:12 AM   #76
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The thing I remember most was making graphs for meetings with graph paper, pen, and ruler.
Ah, yes, the overhead projector... Replaced now by Powerpoint presentations, but still as painful...

"No job is finished until there's a Powerpoint presentation..."
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:14 AM   #77
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I guess part of the reason I'm wondering these things is what could I do if I were to switch careers from my high stress 24x7 IT management position to something else that allows me to leave work at work after 5pm and on the weekends. I guess I'm just feeling nostalgic and imagining a simpler life of the yester years.
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:18 AM   #78
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I guess part of the reason I'm wondering these things is what could I do if I were to switch careers from my high stress 24x7 IT management position to something else that allows me to leave work at work after 5pm and on the weekends. I guess I'm just feeling nostalgic and imagining a simpler life of the yester years.
It is possible to find a relatively low-stress IT job. There are companies out there that emphasize the life portion of the work-life balance, although they usually don't pay in the upper 20% for any given title. If you can get high enough in the IT food chain, you can usually also avoid the midnight "something's down" calls. There is also the option of going consultant where you can engineer your business away from areas that are real time (support, etc.) and toward areas that aren't real time (designing/architecting, engineering, assessing, etc.).
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:21 AM   #79
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Started my remote field job in the '70's. No cell phones or computers. I had to find a pay phone every Wednesday to call in and tell them where I would travel the next week. The secretary would then type it up and mail the route to my call list. Very simple times.
However it was a major handicap when trying to deal with family emergencies and other items requiring immediate action.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:42 AM   #80
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This is a fun page:

vintage everyday: Modern Office of the 70's & 80's


And this site is really cool. All pre-1960 pictures. imoldernu probably recognizes a few.

Early Office Museum Exhibits
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