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Old 04-07-2015, 12:24 PM   #101
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I started in the early '80s at a large Megacorp. Since there were only two dedicated word processing machines in the building, they were reserved for external letters only. You hand-wrote everything, double-spaced so you could make changes, with lots of literal cut-and-paste. Peers and the boss reviewed and commented on the hand-written version, which only went to typing when it was deemed final. Internal memos (what we would email or text [Lync] today) was hand-written on a form, and went to the file that way.

One telephone was shared between two desks, and long-distance calls had to go through the company switchboard and a charge number had to be provided. The telecopy (fax) machine was the size of a desk, and if it were more than six pages it was cheaper to FedEx it. Pay phones were provided in the hall for personal calls, which were discouraged.

Drawings were pencil on mylar, and sometimes had to be re-drawn because the mylar was worn through from so much erasing.

The boss of about 200 people was at the door at 8:03 taking name of those who were late. Lunch was strictly 45 minutes, and there was a traffic jam to get out of the parking lot at 4:46. It was impossible to walk up the stairs at 4:45 due to the crowds coming down. Occasionally, a few people would sprint across the parking lot if they were in front of the crowd.

Days off had to be approved a week in advance by three levels of management.

IT was in a dedicated building with a giant machine on a raised floor. When the first PCs finally appeared, management insisted on charging clients for computer time, just like the mainframes. There was a card that went into a slot next to the PC that tracked time used by which project. If your department thought it needed a PC then a business case had to be written in detail, itemizing every single task it would be used for. These requests were typically denied.

I'm stopping now while I still feel like I'm less than 90 years old!
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Old 04-07-2015, 12:32 PM   #102
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Our office was pretty small, but even if the person sat next to you, you still put any mail into the outbox on your desk for the Secretary to deliver. I once hand-delivered a meeting notice and was rebuked by my boss for doing her job. I suspect she had complained.
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Old 04-07-2015, 12:47 PM   #103
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I would have to do a weekly update report on status of something or other. It got a pretty wide distribution; 40-50 people. The next day, I'd get questions about stuff that, had anyone read the report, they would know the answer to.

One day, I put an additional paragraph in the middle of the report: "If you've read this far and would like to keep receiving this report, please let me know by Friday. Otherwise, this will be your last week on distribution".

No. One. replied.

Then, everyone was outraged when I didn't send them the report.

Then, they were even more outraged when I told them to read last week's report. One guy even tried to get me fired for it!!
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Old 04-07-2015, 12:59 PM   #104
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During our early days of our company, we had a "no married couples working" rule. One day, a secretary (sorry, admin) married one of our engineers and her boss came to her and said: "so, when is your last day?" She said: "oh, I"m not leaving, my husband is going to have to leave...he can get a job anywhere". That was the last day of that policy!!
Yeah, the company I described above had that, too. When two people in IT (both programmer types, not admins) announced their engagement, HR called them in and told them one had to quit.

They both did.
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Old 04-07-2015, 02:00 PM   #105
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Ah, yes! (In my best WC Fields voice), I remember back in the day if you wanted porn in the office you had to bring it in in your briefcase.
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Old 04-07-2015, 03:39 PM   #106
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had to wear a suit every day, well, except for Go Texan day, that was the only casual day of the year


no PCs at the desk, we had one PC in the office (old Compaq) - everything was done on the mainframe, you had to submit jobs and they charged you more (yes, IT used to charge for computer time) if you ran a day job so we submitted them at night


back then a spreadsheet was really a spreadsheet
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Old 04-07-2015, 03:42 PM   #107
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back then a spreadsheet was really a spreadsheet
And...."cut and paste" was a matter of someone actually cutting out a paragraph/photo with scissors, and physically pasting it onto another piece of paper and then "Xeroxing" it.
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Old 04-07-2015, 04:42 PM   #108
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Ok, here's one.

Early in my career, I spent a couple years in Mexico as an expat. I first went down there before they had deregulated and privatized TelMex, the national telephone company.

It was one of those horror stories of customer service that makes Comcast look like the Four Seasons in comparison. Waiting lists of months to years for a new line or service on an existing one, unless you knew the right person or could bribe someone.

So because phone lines were somewhat scarce, they became a status symbol. A successful business man would have multiple phone lines - 3, 4, even more. not like from a pbx, but distinct lines from the phone company with non-consecutive numbers.

And since it was a status symbol that guy would have each number printed on his business card, and a phone set for each number on his desk. That's right, you'd see 3-4 phones on a guys desk.

All this quickly went away once Telmex was privatized and modernized. When I went back to Mexico for another expat stint 5 years later, the 'phone culture' was no different than in the US.
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Old 04-07-2015, 04:47 PM   #109
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^ wow, what a cluster


Must be why we had about 40 phone lines running into our house built in the late 60s.
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Old 04-07-2015, 04:48 PM   #110
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I missed the 2-3 martini lunch days by a few years but we could still smoke in the office back in the day


some of the consultants had company cars - offices were huge - my principal office in Houston was about twice or 3 times the size of my office now


I actually had a paid cc membership for about 5 years before they cut it off
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Old 04-07-2015, 05:01 PM   #111
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Many people hated the computers.
I was one of those. Well, not the computers so much, but the fact that they were dumped on us with no instruction, no time to learn it, just a big thick book with arcane language I'd never heard of and an interface that was well, 1970's. Most of the people had never seen a computer before outside of TV, let alone told to use one.

They just put terminals in the district police stations and for wanted checks, tag listings, serial number searches on items recovered that might be stolen and the like we used to get done with a phone call to the dispatchers. Then one day we're supposed to magically know how to use this thing.

It was incredibly frustrating and the hours wasted just thumbing through that manual hoping to stumble on what we were looking for or hunting down someone else who did know. Just a half day of training would have eliminated most of that.
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:36 PM   #112
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So far, this thread has been one of the more fun ones!!!

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Old 04-07-2015, 06:59 PM   #113
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Some people have mentioned the changing roll of women in the workplace, this is one.

In the early 70s I used to occasionally go out on oceanographic research vessels for a few weeks to a month or more at a time.

I was in my early 20s and I loved it. When you got on board the ship, it was always full of girlie magazines strewn all over the place, and old Navy guys with lots of stories of WWII, ladies of the night, various ports of call, and at least every other word a four letter one. They generally lived hard lives and were quite different from the less colorful scientific staff of which I was a part.

There were never any women on board. Very seldom they had had a female scientist, but never any female marine tech or staff. These guys still considered women on board ship to be unlucky.

Then in 1974 it all changed. The university decided to start having female marine techs and graduate students on board, and I was on this first cruise, and old converted WWII cargo ship, now an oceanographic research vessel, going down to South America.

The crew were of course at first all grumbling about it, women don't belong on ships, never had them before, bad luck, what about the bathrooms, etc. etc.

Then when I got on board I was in shock. All those amazing girlie magazines were gone, completely gone. They had been on every cruise I had been on until then, but there were none now. And not a single curse word from any of the crew. I don't know how they did it, but they managed.

By the end of the cruise, all these grizzled old timers said they didn't want to go out to sea ever again WITHOUT women on board!

Just as an aside, one of the crewmen had a brother who worked making porno films in LA. He of course brought them on board, and after a while the women said they wanted to see them too. I was curious as well, it was the first time I had ever seen one. I think he only showed them twice. Everyone was there for the first one, to see what it was, but almost nobody went to the second. Not the men or the women, we preferred the Hollywood movies that they brought along.

Interesting thing when you arrive at port it is quite different than arriving by air. People came on board to sell us cigarettes, woven blankets, and invitations to the various houses of ill repute.

My guess is that everything is much more sanitized and predictable now. I am glad I got to see and participate in the transition.

Edit: I have several diplomas, but only one on my wall, my most important one, the one I earned on that trip, when I became an official shellback.
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:49 PM   #114
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Some things on my desk in 1980:
  • Stack of plastic trays: inbox, outbox, and several more for projects in progress. Some people had tray stacks 3 or 4 feet high.
  • Computer terminal
  • 1200 baud modem connected to the terminal
  • Phone
  • Another phone for the modem
  • Plastic stencil for drawing flowcharts and designs. We didn't have graphics capable terminals in those days. We created the text of our design documents online, but the drawings were paper attachments.
  • Pads of pink phone message slips. If your office-mate's phone rang and he/she was not in the office, you were expected to answer it and take a message. No voice mail, and not high enough rank to have a secretary to take phone messages.
  • Pads of green paper and lots of magnets, used for posting notes on the metal office walls. This was before Post-It notes were available.
  • Books and manuals for all the things I needed to know while waiting for someone to invent Google.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:52 AM   #115
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Some things on my desk in 1980:
[*]Pads of pink phone message slips. If your office-mate's phone rang and he/she was not in the office, you were expected to answer it and take a message.
Yes, we had those still when I started. Occasionally we would use them for pranks.

My favorite was writing down a fake message from Maureen Core and leaving the number of the local Marine Corp recruiter.
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Old 04-08-2015, 02:11 AM   #116
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People have noted to watch mad men, but another thing is to watch endless re-runs of a long running series (or series franchise) like Law and Order. I actually ran across an article recently that discussed how technology has changed over the years via Law and Order.
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Old 04-08-2015, 02:18 AM   #117
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I started working in the early 1980's in the semiconductor industry. Shared, terminal between two people in my office connected to a minicomputer. Fairly primitive. FAX was still going through early adoption. No email yet. Printer was in a room in a controlled environment. Primitive voicemail. Modems, when they existed, were 300 baud acoustic coupled modems. Programming had moved from Fortran to Pascal.
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Old 04-08-2015, 05:14 AM   #118
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Before voice mail, written phone messages were left in prominent places on people's desks, so anyone walking by could also read them. Sometimes friends would try to make the messages funny, but most people just wrote the name/phone number and left it at that.

For a blessedly short while, I was in the same office with a super-neat control-freak who delighted to leave vaguely accusatory phone messages in her tiny, perfect, copperplate handwriting. Thanks to this thread, I thought about that miserable old maid cow-orker for the first time in 30 years!:

"So-and-so called and said you were supposed to call him by 9 a.m., but you didn't."

"The mail room called: you have a stack of mail that hasn't been picked up in days."

"Someone called and would not leave his name. Apparently you left something in his office. Please call him about picking it up [phone number]." [Anyone else would have written, "Unidentified caller, personal, [phone number]."

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cranberryjoe View Post
Some things on my desk in 1980:
  • Stack of plastic trays: inbox, outbox, and several more for projects in progress. Some people had tray stacks 3 or 4 feet high.
  • Computer terminal
  • 1200 baud modem connected to the terminal
  • Phone
  • Another phone for the modem
  • Plastic stencil for drawing flowcharts and designs. We didn't have graphics capable terminals in those days. We created the text of our design documents online, but the drawings were paper attachments.
  • Pads of pink phone message slips. If your office-mate's phone rang and he/she was not in the office, you were expected to answer it and take a message. No voice mail, and not high enough rank to have a secretary to take phone messages.
  • Pads of green paper and lots of magnets, used for posting notes on the metal office walls. This was before Post-It notes were available.
  • Books and manuals for all the things I needed to know while waiting for someone to invent Google.
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Old 04-08-2015, 06:04 AM   #119
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Long after email was the norm, I knew at least two managers who had their admins print out all of their emails first thing in the morning, and then place the stack on their desk. Then they'd dictate responses as needed. Then the printed emails were "archived" in folders.
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Old 04-08-2015, 06:08 AM   #120
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When you got on board the ship, it was always full of girlie magazines strewn all over the place, and old Navy guys with lots of stories of WWII, ladies of the night, various ports of call, and at least every other word a four letter one.
Spent a lot of time flying around various South Pacific atolls in the 70's (Gilbert Islands etc).

We were told quite clearly and explicitly at several points by several people before leaving that girlie mags and such would be viewed on the same level as carrying illegal drugs. Not that I was going to have either one but they were dead serious!

I suppose having mags on ship was different because you weren't trying to take them on-island.
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