The evolution of office technology: From the typewriter to the tablet

The evolution of office technology: From the typewriter to the tablet

Summary: A journey through 40 years of office tech.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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  • An early Nokia mobile phone.

  • The once-ubiquitous fax machine.

  • Some of the technology that is now commonplace in the modern office.

    Today widespread use of internet-connected mobile computers such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones have in some ways made the office less relevant than it once was. Work can be carried out at home or on the move and is no longer so tightly tied to a regular working day.

    "You've seen a massive drop in the cost of technology, a massive improvement in its quality and in the interaction between technologies — which means these technologies are far more effective today," said Colm Sheehy, of the Centre for Economic and Business Research, on the evolution of office technology over the past 40 years.

Topic: Hardware

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • Changes!

    I remember the manual Royal typewriters that I learned to type on. I remember the rotary phone with party lines. Today I have a Surface Pro, i-Core 7 Desktop and a Lumia 920 phone to do my work with. Thanks for reminding me just how old I really am!
    Foreseen
  • Changes!

    I remember the manual Royal typewriters that I learned to type on. I remember the rotary phone with party lines. Today I have a Surface Pro, i-Core 7 Desktop and a Lumia 920 phone to do my work with. Thanks for reminding me just how old I really am!
    Foreseen
  • Typewriters?

    And you left out the IBM Selectrics? You're kidding, right?
    RMungo
  • I was taught mechanography at secondary school

    and we had to take our mechanical typewriters every other day for class. I remember my shoulder and arm going numb under the weight of the carrying case (mine was a shoulder strap model). And the "clack clack clack" sound at class. Oh, those were the days... nice days...
    Aristarco Palacios
  • Man-typing

    Never had to use a manual typewriter for work, but it suddenly became expected for CVs and job applications inn the early 80s. I got an old manual m/c and reckon I managed 1 good to 5 duff copies. 10 years later with an IBM 386pc on my desk, I was printing 10+ CVs a week with a personalised application letter and barely any mistakes (yes, I hated my then job!).
    Now get illiterate CVs and unintelligible applications from idiots who think they deserve a job - no excuse now it's so easy!
    BluesMonkey
  • I think your annual 100 pound pay statement is wrong.

    That would not have even been a weekly pay.
    jessepollard
  • Tablets?

    Oh, forget it.
    I suppose I'm a luddite.
    radu.m
  • brings back fond (???) memories...

    In the '60s in the US, the Selectric was rapidly becoming the standard typewriter. (It's a fine machine, if you can get used to the "touch", which was designed for females. The classic IBM "breaking spring" computer keyboard was designed for males, and has almost exactly the opposite feel.)

    Though most offices had switchboards, phones were generally multi-line, with buttons to select the line. You could transfer a call simply by yelling across the room -- "Bob... It's your wife on 4073."

    I learned to type 50 years ago in high school. (Now, that is scary!) We had Olympias, probably the best manual typewriter ever, almost as easy to type on as an electric.

    I don't remember if Michael Nesmith's mother had invented Liquid Paper, but we did have "Corasable" paper, which could be cleanly erased. (IBM and Smith Corona later introduced "lift off" systems.)

    I wouldn't be surprised if the average British pay was around $500 back then. British workers were generally poorly paid, and probably still are. (This is one of the reasons American firms such as Timex moved jobs to Ireland.)
    GrizzledGeezer
  • Typewriters? Uh, I don't think so.

    I remember going into the office with my grandfather and later my father. Typewriters were not on staff's desks, unless they did "writing" as part of their job. Most were done by either personal assistants or secretarial pools. My grandfather was the president of his company and he would dictate his communications to his secretary, she'd type it up and he'd read it and signed it. He never learned to type. But there was a secretarial pool at his office. My father, was a manager and he shared a steno/secretarial pool with others, he also never learned to type and he also dictated his communications. They never had typewriters on their desks.
    ManoaHI
  • Remember

    When we would ask "Do you have email?" now we ask "what is your email?"
    apoteke
  • computer class

    In college, just for fun I took a prgramming course. I learned fortran and punched out my programs onto punch cards. then I ran the program and sometimes used up my computer time because I wrote into my program a continuous loop. We had a computer building not a laptop much less a tablet.
    apoteke
    • I remember

      Remember how you had to fix typos? Card dup and fix the error on the card. Later we had some really "advanced" card punches that had a display, so you could edit before punching the cards.
      ManoaHI