Early IT Professionals
Cathy Gillespie (email address below) sent us this article about early IT professionals.
In 1965, I applied for a job with the GPO as a computer operator working at Charles House in Kensington. It’s opposite Olympia. The GPO had 7000 applicants and only took 40 people, so I was very lucky to get in. At the time the GPO were buying a new LEO III/26. However, it had not yet arrived, so we all ended up working in the same computer room.
There were 40 of us so it was a bit crowded, so we used to have shifts in the rest room. We spent shifts playing table tennis and shifts working. And if we had visitors we had to disappear so that the machine room looked tidy!
Anyway we were all about the same age, between 16 and 25. So it was like going to a party every day. It was an amazing first job. I’m really glad I discovered computing as I’ve had a brilliant time working in it.
Never a Dull Moment as an IT Operator
Any other job is boring and predictable but I’ve never had a dull moment. The operations sense of humour was great too. It was very quick-witted and sharp and that’s something I really miss.
Anyway it was fun, different, full of amazing, strange boffin-type people who were super-intelligent and just a bit wobbly, but great fun.
It wasn’t like any other job at the time as it was not confined to an office. So I think we had much greater freedom than others. I loved working shifts because of the flexibility. I felt really lucky to be in a job with forty others who were about my age.
It was all so new then that no one knew what you meant when you said you were a computer operator, which I thought was great.
It was fantastic that we couldn’t be put into a pigeon-hole and that people had to really think before they said anything about my job.
Above all it was fun!
I was 18 and earning a decent wage, working in Kensington with all the
Shops, and had time and money to enjoy it all. The machines were obviously quite slow by modern standards and took up a whole room, but I felt they had character and threw tantrums when they weren’t happy.
You learned to be very respectful when talking loudly in front of them in case they decided not to co-operate. It’s a habit I still have in case my PC gets a fit of the sulks.
They were great days and I’m really glad I got into computing.
Does anyone else have memories of early IT professionals?