The beginning of the end of the secretarial pool
Office machinery is being revolutionized and the role of the secretary is changing
There are no secretaries at this ultra-modern Canadian National Railway office. And no typewriters, either.
It's 1978, and management has replaced the old-fashioned machines with time-saving computer terminals, operated by "word processors."
Green-screened machines, called visual display text editors (VDTEs) and resembling small television sets with keyboards, are operated by specially-trained staff.
Aside from the ease of operation and conveniences for the word processor herself, the operator of the VDTE can do a lot more work in a day than on an ordinary typewriter.
And the best part of this, according to office manager Stan Lewis, is that productivity is up and that will only get better.
And dictating a letter no longer requires having a secretary walk into the office.
Thanks to computerization, dictating a letter means simply speaking into a telephone. The message is relayed to a "thought-tank system" and then over to a word processor's text editor.
But if secretaries are worried about machines eliminating jobs, manufacturers see the opposite effect. With the creation of new roles for the secretary, "we put those same secretaries that used to be doing all functions in the office into special categories now."