Mechanical Brains Take Over Work of Ten Office Clerks (Aug, 1929)

Mechanical Brains Take Over Work of Ten Office Clerks

A REGULAR ration of electric current, with occasional dessert of a little oil now and then, is all that this tabulating machine, shown above, requires to do the work of ten persons. A combination bookkeeper, adding machine, card sorter, cash register and computator all in one, the machine is operated by three people. Depending on which button is pushed, it can turn out complete report sheets of figures, budget reports, sales analysis, statements of labor costs or payroll listings. The apparatus has recently been installed in the bureau of light and power in the city of Los Angeles. It weighs 3,000 pounds and is one of the two in existence. Miss Mildred Gorham is shown operating one unit of the machine. It runs silently.

  1. Hirudinea says: May 11, 20117:39 am

    “Mechanical Brains Take Over Work of Ten Office Clerks” Judging by some government offices I’ve been too that isn’t saying much.

  2. Mike says: May 11, 20118:52 am

    Hirudinea, don’t worry the government employees are still sitting on their asses doing nothing while they demand more money taken from you so they can earn a “living wage.”

  3. GaryM says: May 11, 20119:09 am

    I’m wondering what kind of machine in 1929 could produce budget reports, sales analysis, and payroll listings. The article doesn’t say who made it.

  4. John says: May 11, 201110:49 am

    GaryM: I’m surprised that you didn’t think of IBM. In the picture is an IBM 301 Accounting (Tabulating) Machine…

  5. Jari says: May 11, 201110:51 am

    GaryM: It’s IBM 301 Accounting Machine.…

  6. Jari says: May 11, 201110:52 am

    Dang. John beat me THIS much.

  7. John says: May 11, 201110:53 am

    Jari: Better luck next time.

  8. Casandro says: May 11, 20113:04 pm

    The machine in the background is obviously a card sorter. With such a sorter an a tabulating machine, you can preety much do anything a modern company uses computers for.

  9. Richard says: May 11, 20113:29 pm

    While I have never seen an IBM 301 in action, I’ve spent many hours in rooms full of IBM 029 keypunches. If it has a printer, keyboard, and card sorter, somehow I doubt that last sentence, “It runs silently.”

  10. Katey says: May 11, 20117:04 pm

    “Mechanical Brains Take Over Work of Ten Office Clerks” … “the machine is operated by three people.”

    Doesn’t that sum to taking over the work of SEVEN office clerks?

  11. Charlene says: May 12, 20112:05 pm

    Yes, and I wonder if the machine operators received higher wages than the clerks replaced by the 301, given the requirement for what was at the time specialist training.

    I’ve actually seen one of these in action, and although it was quieter than you’d expect it sure didn’t run silently.

  12. Anne says: May 23, 20117:20 am

    Maybe they needed 13 clerks before, now they’re down to just 3 employees?

    Or something.

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