Kids eh? They don’t know how easy they have it these days do they? They have a computer that fits in their pocket, their mail gets delivered from halfway across the world in a split second and they have record collections that comprise several million tracks but they only have to pay £10 a month to own it.
Some of these kids will one day get a job in an office but will have no idea what previous generations went through just to be able to get through a full day’s workload. If you try explaining to a young office worker what a Rolodex, Filofax or Fax Machine is, you may cause the young person in question to develop a nose bleed as the stress on their young mind of attempting to imagine writing all your contacts down using pen and paper could prove too much to bare.
We have therefore created this pictorial guide of some of the tools that were used by early office workers to help them get through the average working day.
Some of the stuff on here makes the stone age appear practically post-modern!
1. Filthy Balls
This is not as one would hope, a problem that requires a visit to the sexual health clinic – but it is in fact a common problem that was suffered by both male and female office workers back in the day when their mouse balls got too dirty to function properly. Yes that’s right, even a computer mouse had balls at one point in history and they certainly didn’t work as well as the hi-tech wireless thingumyjigs that are available today.
2. WAP Phones
Do you find it a tad annoying when your smartphone momentarily drops down to 3G? Well have a heart for people in the ‘olden’ days (most of the noughties) because WAP phones were all the rage if you were a high-flying business executive back then. They were supposed to be at the pinnacle of interactive mobile internet usage but in terms of speed, ease of use, appearance and interoperability, the reality fell far short of expectations when the first handsets became available in 1999. This ultimately led to the wide-ranging use of sardonic phrases such as “Worthless Application Protocol” and “Wait And Pay” as an alternative to its correct “Wireless Application Protocol” moniker.
3. Infinite download times
Downloading a document today is a doddle, but back when the internet was still in short pants (mid to late 1990s) downloading a file involved a similar level of patience to watching the formation of a fossil. If you needed to share files with a colleague back then, you were better off going round to their desk and working on the project at the same time because the amount of time it took to download to your computer meant you would have retired before you were able to open it.
4. Using a map to get to a business meeting
Remember these? Back in prehistoric offices (anytime up until around 2005), people used to have to use maps that were printed on paper to be able to get to a business meeting. Then Google brought out Google Maps and we all forgot all those wonderful skills we learnt in the Girl Guides and Cub Scouts!
5. Not being able to claim you didn’t call in because you had no battery
These days, running out of mobile phone battery is as common as running out of loo roll in the toilets at work, but ‘back in the day’ this was almost unheard of. You see, mobile phones back then didn’t have all the bells and whistles that they have today and the only app that was available was the infinitely enjoyable but mind-numbingly basic ‘snake’ game that came with the Nokia. If you didn’t call the office to warn them you were going to be late back then, you had to make sure that when you did turn up, each of your limbs were covered in plaster and you were wearing a neck brace – preferably a good two months later as well!
6. Not always being able to play music while you work
It’s not as if there was no music before the advent of i-phone docking stations, it’s just that the way we consumed music involved a bit more hardware. Back in the old testament, people had to play their music using a device known as a CD player and the technological advances meant you could easily create your own playlists by ‘burning’ your own CDs. The trouble with these burned CDs was that they rarely ever worked on the CD player in question, so instead you had to listen to the radio – which was in itself a completely pointless exercise because tuning them to a particular station was damn-near impossible.
7. ……not to mention driving
Choosing a music track to play whilst driving to meet a client is a doddle today, but before the great flood it was a challenge like no other. Apart from wondering whether the CD you were looking for was actually in the correct wallet, you had to scan through the entire thing to find it! People talk about the increase in workplace productivity as a result of technology a hell of a lot these days and we put this down to the fact that the length of time it takes to get to a meeting in a car has halved for the above reason and no other.
8. Chewed up VHS video cassettes
It’s quite possible that the old VHS video cassettes may have been self-aware sentient beings with a mind of their own that were capable of waging a nefarious war of mischief upon the office workers of yore. The reason we say this is because they always worked perfectly unless you were doing a corporate presentation for clients. Then, sure as night turns to day, they would cough and splutter out their innards at the precise moment that you’re about to show Mr. or Mrs. client the new product your company will be launching. It doesn’t happen today because of YouTube videos etc. but back when the stones were still soft it could be quite an embarrassing occurrence.
9. Windows manual shutdown
These days, when the clock strikes 5:30pm it’s coat on, computer off and out the door – but back when the cradle of life itself was nothing more than a primordial soup, office workers had to manually finish shutting down their computers. Archaeologists are unclear whether this was an ancient ritual designed to bring humanity closer to the gods we worshipped back then, or if Windows XP was simply designed to ensure that everybody did at least a bit of overtime, but when you initially shut down your computer, you had to wait before the computer told you that it was okay to physically switch the bloody thing off. It’s the only time in history where ‘finishing off yourself’ always resulted in an unhappy ending!
10. This happening………
We’re not quite sure what it is either, but it doesn’t happen anymore does it?