The Evolution of Workplace Technology

Bowling Green, Ky (October 8, 2020) – In sixth grade, I asked Santa for a cassette tape recorder for Christmas because my teacher had introduced our class to all the fun things they could do. Santa granted my wish, and I recorded everyone from my grandfather telling old stories to my cousins playing their new electronic football game. Those tapes still connect me with my grandfather and cousins.

Next, I had Typing I class in the early ’70s on an IBM Selectric typewriter. By high school graduation, I was a typing whiz. I continued taking business classes in college and soon landed my first job as a legal secretary. We typed on IBM typewriters and used carbon paper to make as many as six copies of some legal documents we typed. What a nightmare it was using whiteout to correct typos and erasing all those carbon copies! I was so excited when the law firm purchased our first Xerox machine and we began making photocopies. It took a few years for those copiers to be perfected, and at times, they were jammed more than they worked.

The IBM Memory typewriter hit the market next, and I persuaded the law firm that if they would purchase one, I would learn to use it. I could store documents in memory now and just hit a few keys to make changes — and that baby sounded like a machine gun when I finally hit the keys to make it playback from memory!

I took a few years off to start a family and one day saw an ad for an executive assistant with word processing experience. I made a phone call to an old friend to find out what “word processing” was. She informed me that it was just a “fancy typewriter.” I decided to interview for the job without word processing experience, and they hired me and sent me to a two-day training course. I started “word processing” the next week with a keyboard, monitor, and printer the size of an HVAC unit. With this equipment, I could do mail merge and the printer would spit out huge quantities of letters and envelopes for mass mailings. We later purchased a “hood” for the printer because it was so loud!

A few years later, we moved over to computers, and I even learned to use LOTUS 1-2-3 and could create spreadsheets. About this time, my kids began learning on a couple of computers in elementary school, and Santa brought them a Tandy computer from Radio Shack for Christmas. You could insert a floppy disk to play games on that computer, and that was a big deal in the early ’80s — especially to our family on a limited budget.

In my next job in the early ’90s, I learned to use a computerized program to do bookkeeping and payroll. I had progressed from LOTUS 123 to Excel. Around this time, I was following news about the internet, along with email and websites. So, I convinced my boss we had to set up an email account and website for his business. The next thing we knew, we were emailing and doing business with people all over the world, and “snail mail” became a new term. The CD was also introduced around this time.

After a couple years of training in healthcare information, my next job took me into medical transcription over the internet, which began with a dial-up connection from home. I then purchased a home satellite because I live in a rural area and there was nothing else available. The hospitals I worked for began transitioning from direct dictation to computerized dictation, and since this was less lucrative for me as a transcriptionist, I moved on to another job.

Low and behold, at my new job, there was another new form of technology to learn: the laptop! Those little pads that you rolled you finger on just didn’t work well for this old gal, but I finally mastered it and also learned how to connect a good old mouse to those newfangled things.

Now, here I am some 45 years later, and I am still learning new technology. I now have a WiFi connection at home (that my neighbors are jealous of) and for the past seven months, I have been teleworking due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am scheduling and participating in Zoom meetings while my co-workers are doing the same from across the country. We now use flash drives for backup. And guess what? We are still working to improve connectivity for all and improve technology. EVERYONE BELONGS IN A CONNECTED NATION!

About the Author: Gina Lindsey is the Connected Nation Executive Assistant to the Chairman and CEO. She provides executive and administrative support to the Chairman and CEO, and other leadership team members as necessary. She also serves as the liaison to the board of directors and assists with facility management for Connected Nation’s corporate office. 

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