Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Progress - Part One - The Great Hope


Over the course of my working life, we have made expansive progress in technology and the associated productivity growth that came along with it.  Today, we go back in history a bit and next blog entry (or maybe two) I'll discuss the what benefit we've gleaned from the advances that have been made.

Consider This

I entered the workforce before e-mail...before spreadsheets...before word processing...before cell phones or smartphones with apps and before the widespread use of the internet.

My first corporate job was in 1983 working for a large international bank (now defunct) and I was responsible for administering the tax reimbursement policy we had for expatriate employees stationed in other countries.

So, envision this...I'd sit at a desk in New York City, needing to correspond regularly with about 70 employees in far-reaching areas like Bahrain, Dubai, Tokyo, London...today, that job would be easy...e-mails, international phone apps and texting would all make communications simple and fast.

In 1983, I had three choices:

  • A typed memo that went in the overnight parcel 
  • A very expensive phone conversation if we could coordinate a time to speak
  • The teletype system, which allowed us to send e-mail-like text which went to a terminal printer in the international office and was hopefully delivered to the intended recipient (obviously we couldn't send any confidential information in this way)

I don't recall if we used fax machines or if not, why.  We did have a pool of word processors...four or five people that would use a word processing machine to type and electronically save our memos and documents into a centralized word processing system.  So we'd hand-write a document and put it in the pool's in-box.  We'd get back drafts of the document, which we'd edit and re-submit and usually get the final document on the second or third attempt  Word processing saved us TONS of time over typing pools, carbon paper copies and WhiteOut.  That photo above was me smoking at my desk with at least two of the word processors I worked with.

If I needed to credit an expatriate's bank account with a tax reimbursement, it required that I complete a three-part form with the employee's account number, the amount of the credit, a description of what it was for and get an officer's signature (which required a memo and back-up documentation for what was being reimbursed and why). Once completed this would be sent to the office that processed bank credits who would make the computer entries necessary.

During the two years I worked at that job, we actually got an IBM PC for that office.  It had two floppy drives and no hard drive.  So we'd have to boot the computer with the DOS disk in Drive A: and then load whatever program we'd want into memory via another floppy disk.  Primarily, we used Lotus 1-2-3 to maintain spreadsheets of data for our expatriate employees, but it was hardly any progress at all compared to the advances we'd see in just a few years.

My department (which handled all expatriate policy administration) consisted of a Senior Vice President, Vice President, Assistant Vice President, four Analysts and four word processors.  I can't imagine that it would have required a department of about 11 employees to do this type of administration in an automated world.  With audit requirements and security, it might require three or four people to do the same work.

More about progress in Part Two.

Current Knitting

With the completion of the Interlocking Scarf, I started a new scarf.


This is a new Knitted Cross Stitch Scarf using the beautiful fuchsia/purple/pink yarn from The Perfect Blend Online and a deep, emerald green single-ply merino.  I'm loving how rich and vibrant this is looking.

I also finished the second pair of Slipper Socks for the NEMKR KAL.


I may do a third pair if it doesn't interfere with Craft Show knitting too much.

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