Modern offices are very different to how they were a few decades back

Let’s time travel through decades of changes in office equipment

Even if you only go back to the 80s or even early 90s, the way offices worked then are much different to how they work now but because many of us sit in an office all day, we’re sometimes blind to the changes as they’re too subtle to notice.

What was “in” or has got so much hype during the 80s? Courtesy:

For example, an office in the 80s will have likely had a green screen monitor and printer on every desk as well as a photocopier room that also contained a fax and sometimes (yes, I remember them!) a telex machine.

Green screen monitors were there because the localised power of a PC was still extremely expensive and very often the only people using them were sales and production that had access to the company’s stock control system. There wasn’t a mouse to be seen and to be honest, they weren’t necessary, interfaces were bulky, clunky and low resolution but they were absolutely perfect for the job at hand. Anyone with a keen eye and a knowledge of the tab button could navigate dozens of screens in seconds.

The screens themselves often used to be quite small, too, but they had huge backs on them, not so the flat screens of today. Desk design was based on the need to keep the back of the screen out of the way and take up as little desk real estate as possible. Usually this mean balancing it on the edge of the desk where it could easily be knocked off by a passing co-worker.

Technology of the 1990s. Courtesy:

During the 90s things began to change, and quickly. PCs started to localise processor power and new interfaces appeared that made the most of this new graphical prowess. When Microsoft released Windows it changed completely how people used their computers and in a few short years companies changed forever.

One of the biggest losses in this technological drive? The typing pool!

Yes, large companies had typing pools where rows upon rows of people (not being sexist here, but they were mostly women) would sit and type letters all day. The boss would send down a hand written letter or a tape they’d dictated and they’d sit there and turn them into typed letters.

Most of the population didn’t type at all, they wrote things down and it was seen as a little ‘below’ some people to be a typist. The typing pool jobs weren’t the best paid, after all.

However, when that now ubiquitous Word processor appeared, things changed forever and the boss could write is own letter and print it himself on the now centralised copier/printer/scanner behemoth that sits in the room where the fax machine used to be.

Of course, things didn’t stop there. A few years after that we got email and the whole notion of sending letters looked doomed. Emails are free, pretty much instant and do away with any formal conventions of grammar and spelling. In fact, most email clients will check your spelling and grammar on the fly, no English degree required.

Where are we now?

Things have advanced even beyond those days and now it’s possible to teleconference using free software with people all around the globe. It seems nothing can be invented without somebody somewhere eventually making a free version that often works better than the expensive ones.

Monitors are now wafer thin and are more pixel-perfect than ever producing incredible colour and resolution. In fact, most people now use a laptop preferring the portability of new technology so they can work from anywhere.

The power of laptops these days means that people can do most of the things they need to do at their desk, more efficiently and quickly than ever before and it only remains to be seen what will happen in the next decade.

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