Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Memory Lane

When Steve Jobs passed away last week I began thinking about my introduction to computers Way Back When. My first office job was in 1979 working for a small, family-owned plastics plant. My aunt worked in the Accounts Payable department and recommended me for a data entry position. 

The behemoth below is similar to what I entered data into. Back in those days computers had to be housed in a cold room; so cold that I needed a sweater in the middle of summer. I loved that! And instead of an ENTER key there was an OCK key. To this very day whenever I press ENTER on a keyboard, I oftentimes think OCK instead.
If I ever develop Alzheimer's and ask where the OCK key is, you'll know why.

I was fresh out of high school and still very immature. Several times my aunt was forced to leave her work space to come lecture me on office etiquette and using a quiet "office" voice. In those days I was a free spirit with my whole life ahead of me and not a care in the world. My objectives back then were having a good time and resist conforming to "the establishment". In my defense, this inappropriate eye chart which hung on the main wall of my department doesn't exactly scream puritan values. Actually, it encouraged a pro-sexual harassment environment which is a big no-no today.
I can't believe I was able to find the same exact chart on Google images!
So dedicated was I to this job, that I worked a few hours the day I got married.Not really. My boss offered to take photos of me in my wedding dress (actually my aunt's dress) for the local paper one Saturday afternoon. Afterwards, we decided to take some photos of me "working". He wanted to trick everyone into thinking that he was such a slave-driver that I was forced to work on my wedding day. No one, except a couple of clueless souls, believed him. Two years later he was fired. His replacement kept me late one evening, and as he helped me into my car, bent down to kiss me through the driver's window. Terrified, I fled as fast as I could in my pea green Pinto. Soon thereafter, he was fired for something else, and I was relieved.

My next job was working for a credit card processing firm. In 1987 I was promoted to Purchasing Clerk. My job was to come up with the artwork that banks embossed on their credit cards. It was mostly straight line type, but sometimes a logo was involved. For this I used a Macintosh like this one:

In 1988 I went to work for a promotional products company and I am still here. My boss sat me in front of this Radio Shack contraption where I tallied up Texas Sales Tax totals each month. All other paperwork was typed in triplicate form. Mistakes were corrected with colored white-out that matched the form color. Most times I was too impatient for the white-out to dry properly so I'd end up with gooey typewriter keys. For this reason and for my perfectionist tendencies, I tried my best to minimize mistakes.  

These 7-1/2" floppy disks only had 256kb of memory.
Disk 1 had Texas cities A-G; disk 2 had cities H-M; disk 3 had cities N-Z.
Well, that's a brief history of how my love of technology began. The only thing I miss are the frigid rooms. Currently, my eye is on the Kindle Fire, but my logical side knows it would be best to wait for the 2nd generation. Oh, it's so exciting to think of all the cool gadgets down the pike that have yet to be born! Riding the technology train is thrilling, isn't it? So much for my anti-establishment views, huh? Ha!

(images from Wikipedia or Google Images)

29 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

thanks for taking us with you on that memory lane trip! too funny! well, except for the actual sexual harassment, that is...

Tricia said...

My goodness, 23 years at the same job... you must love it! =)

I've been working at the same job for only 7 yrs, so far... I run my parent's mini storage business (used to be an agent for Atlas Van Lines - moving furniture) =)

Kittie Howard said...

Loved the trip down Memory Lane - and what a pretty bride you were...gorgeous dress. My mom suffered sexual harassment problems when she worked after her divorce. Yet she fought the women's movement tooth and nail. Never understudy why except that perhaps she was conflicted, between generations. I personally think the movement went too far, but, then, I've benefited from the movement and never suffered in the workplace.

Oh, but I wish I could make a computer sing like you do, Gail!

lisa said...

What a wonderful "walk down Memory Lane" Gail!!
I truly enjoyed reading this!

beth said...

memory lane regarding computers and cell phones can make me feel really old....

won't it be interesting to see what continues to develop for our kids....can you imagine them in their 80's thinking how old the ipad and iphones are....

oh technology :)

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

You and I entered the work world about the same year, Gail. Funny, I had a boss that tried to kiss my on the neck at the receptionist's desk. He was married and had about 10 kids, if I recall. Geez!

Barbara Shallue said...

I loved walking through these memories with you (and the photo of you!!) My first experience was a programming class at the University of Houston - we wrote the programs and had to type them up on keypunch cards, hand them through the window to a person who fed them into a computer the size of my bathroom! Then I'd get a printout with an error on it and have to start all over... thank the good Lord for people like Jobs who kept improving technology!!

Tricia @ A Rosy Note said...

Loved your stroll down memory lane...loved all those photos too. It makes me think of some of the nightmarish jobs and people I've encountered while working. As for technology, it's so odd looking back and seeing how much things have changed in such a short amount of time isn't it?

ladyfi said...

Fascinating glimpse into your connections with technology. I remember the carbon papers and typewriters and am thankful for the ease of computers!

Pieces of Sunshine said...

Interesting trip down memory lane. So much has changed in such a short time. I remember buying floppy disks like this one!

Georgianna said...

Oh, I can so relate! I well remember the freezing rooms filled with walls of computers. I got my first Mac in 1987 or 88 and have been working on one every day since. Right now on my desk I have an iMac, a second Cinema Display, an iPad, an iPhone and a Mac Book Pro. I'm in my own Mac bubble. :)

I LOVE that photo of you in your dress. How amazing. And the phone, wow!

p. s. we still have some floppies like this, yikes!

xo

Pat said...

Delightful trip down Memory Lane, Gail!

Linda R. said...

Thanks so much for the stroll down memory lane.. I remember when the office I worked in brought in a fax machine.. I was so amazed.. I really couldn't figure out how it work.. But I remember thinking it was so cool!!

Starla said...

I was just talking to one of my patients yesterday about how we all grew up without cell phones. And how I seriously thought that I would never use texting that much. Let's just say, I'm glad for unlimited texting!! It's the easiest way for my husband and I to communicate our day/week!

Evelyn S. said...

Quite the trip! When I worked while in college Selectric typewriters were the bane of my existence....I worked for the Department of Information and had to type college news releases for all the state newspapers....on STENCILS! Mistakes had to be corrected with a special fluid. No computers until about 10 years into my teaching career. Remember "Thinking...Thinking...Thinking"?

Rosie said...

I love your trip down the Memory Lane - brings back some of my own, too. I also remember my first contact with a Macintosh and the mouse... :-)

Hula Girl at Heart said...

Ha! When I was in high school, the only people who took computer classes were the folks who planned to get jobs as secretaries after graduation. The rest of us didn't think we needed those classes for our big time career plans. LOL.

Shug said...

I certainly have enjoyed this post...We have come a long way, haven't we?
For a moment there, I thought for sure that you must be the writer for the TV show, "Parenthood". I so love this show, and your words carried me right to it..
Love the picture of you at the desk..Your boss must have had a great sense of humor...
Blessings,
shug.

missing moments said...

This was a fun walk down technology memory lane! How far we've come! Great story!

Rosemary Aubut said...

Wow Gail you are amazing! Truly a nice visit to memory lane!

hootnonny said...

Amazing walk down Memory Lane Gail! The sign made me cringe, remembering the Sexual Harassment classes I once taught at work! And what losers your bosses were!

My first computer was a MTST machine, which used a tape. Stop codes would be entered at appropriate places, so when played back (typing on paper) it stopped when stop code came up and the correct info would be added. I was using it for prospectuses, contracts and advertisements for timber sales, among other documents.

Butterbean Row said...

Well, Gail, that was a real blast into the past! Very interesting evolution of computers. You had a head start on most of us.

♥charlotte

Leontien said...

haha i remember the floppy disks but i have NO idea that there was an OCK key!!!

You look great!

Big hugs
Leontien

Laura Delegal - Leroy Photography said...

Ha ha, seems we've traveled the same road. I wonder what technology will be in 20 years. I'm sure it'll be wild!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Remember when the fonts were only in orange or green?! We've come a long way :) The fax machine still boggles my mind - photocopy in one place and it comes out in another. XOL

septembermom said...

That was a fun trip down memory lane! What a great picture of you "working" in your pretty dress :) It is exciting to see all the new gadgets. I'm anxious to get a Kindle soon.

That eye chart is too much!

Tina said...

Loved reading your memory lane in technology...wow...things have come a long way. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend too!

Tina said...

Hi Gail. Just read your blog "In Gratitude," thanks so much for sharing. The excerpt from the book was what I needed to hear at this moment in regards to our own son. Its not a painful situation but just an area where I have to let go and realize that God is in control and He can do a much better job at looking after our son than I can...so thanks...

Madge @ The View From Right Here said...

Anyone whose worked in an office over any length of time has seen a plethora of technologies come and go... I started when mimeographs were still in use and carbon paper prior to the advent of the first Xerox copiers in the late 1960s...