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Monday, May 04, 2009

Thirty-five years B.C. (before computers)

I don't know why I'm posting this. Nobody on the web is old enough to be able to answer the question that occured to me while standing in a bank queue the other day. But anyway.

What did banks do before computers?

Nowadays we accept that the teller will be able to tell everything about us after a few clicks. It wasn't always thus. What did they do in the mid-70s when you wanted to know what your balance was? I remember going into banks and asking that very question. How did they answer it? Did they disappear into the back and come back with the answer on a scrap of paper? I seem to remember that they did. And if so, where did they get that information from? Was there a Sgt Wilson figure somewhere in a morning coat sitting behind a huge ledger recording the comings and goings on everyone's account with a quill pen?

Nowadays we take it for granted that everything that can be recorded is being recorded somewhere, generally without actual human intervention. The idea that there was a time when nothing happened unless a human being was commanded to make it happen is something I already find amazing.