It was acceptable in the '80s... Come and reminisce about your first job.

(188 Posts)

I left uni in 1987, and worked in an office. We had a telex machine which was a complete bastard to operate, and although we had computers, most correspondence was done on electric typewriters. In about 1988 or 1989, we got our first fax machine (with a roll of thermal paper) and then in the early '90s we got an internal email system which we all thought was amazing.

My manager was the first person I knew to get a mobile - a huge brick that plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car, and could, I think, only be used in the car.

But what seems most amazing now was the fact that we all smoked at our desks, and we had company ashtrays. Our MD had a box of cigarettes on his desk that he'd hand round at meetings. It seems unbelievable that this was the 1980s and not the 1940s.

We also used to do a lot of business lunches, and we'd often stay in the pub for the rest of the afternoon.

Changed days.

Francesco Wed 16-May-12 17:49:48

Can't reminisce my first proper job was in 2000! I was a child in the 80s. wink

Olympia2012 Wed 16-May-12 17:50:50

I was a cook at a 'little chef'!

I remember the live aid concert whilst working we would take in turns to sit in the car and listen on the radio! Then go inside and report back.

We also took it in turns to stand at the incinerator and burn boxes.... In our uniforms, no gloves or protective gear at all. No extinguisher nearby, nothing. Health and safety didn't seem to exist back then..

dweezle Wed 16-May-12 17:55:03

Oooh yes, smoking at desks. Me (I was the juniorest of juniors) making the tea for everyone and them all having cups and saucers, not mugs.

Putting up the pay - £10 notes in little glassine envelopes.

Switchboard with dozens of plugs and leads.

The company chairman calling me dear.

Being told off for wearing trousers to work.

No mobiles, no email - you had to pick up the phone and call someone or actually get up off your bum and go and see them - and I'm convinced we got more work satisfactorily done becasue of it.

Olympia2012 Wed 16-May-12 17:57:07

Ah yes, CASH pay packets!!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 16-May-12 17:58:43

I worked for a pretty big company when I left uni in the mid-eighties and we actually had internal e-mail <gasp>. There was a bloke that knew how to work the telex but, by then, it was already on the way out. The fax was incredibly slow and buzzed through a document Curly, curly paper... Smoking... ah yes... the brownish, yellowy walls were a dead giveaway. Then there were the silly hours. Anyone owning up to leaving early for a family reason was barracked as a 'part-timer' and if your car wasn't in the car-park before the boss got in at 7.45 ditto.

AreWeHavingFunYet Wed 16-May-12 18:04:29

I joined a Lloyd's underwriting agency in the late 80's and the female staff worked 9.15 to 5.15 while the men worked 9 to 5.30. That changed right at the end of 1989 but as OP says it sounds like the 1940's.

Annunziata Wed 16-May-12 18:24:10

I was the general skivvy in a cafe. I worked from early morning or from when I came home from school until the pubs came out. The cook was a chain smoker, we didn't have an electric scale so we had a massive reference book of tables or did the sums in our heads, we had to pull up the massive heavy shutters by hand, we took the orders into the kitchen rather than using a computer printout, you got sweeties from a jar in quarters and two-ounces worth, you could either get vanilla ice cream or raspberry ripple. All pay was cash on a Friday and there were no time cards- you came on time and that was it! Oh, and a boy kissed me in the stockroom in 1985.

I married him and I'm now the manager grin

Dweezle, you've reminded me that we had a tea lady too when I started. She came round twice a day with a trolley, urn and cups and saucers. She retired not long after I started, but I think she'd been there for about 40 years.

AreWeHavingFunYet Wed 16-May-12 18:32:44

Who remembers DOS based programmes in the days before Windows?

And using word processor software with things like cntl B to start bold and cntl B to end bold and it wrote all of those commands on the screen around your actual letter.

bigTillyMint Wed 16-May-12 18:35:28

I was a barnaid in a real ale pub. I had to wear a buxom wench outfit, complete with pinny. I am not buxom by any stretch of the imaginationgrin

JeanBodel Wed 16-May-12 18:39:12

I remember in my first job we had to share the computer - one between the two of us. But this was early 90's.

DressDownFriday Wed 16-May-12 18:39:12

I used to work in a bank. If another branch was running short of cash we used to put £5/£10k in a bag and walk it round shock.

Our manager also used to let us eat Artic Roll whilst serving customers.

exexpat Wed 16-May-12 18:40:37

Data input for an insurance company in 1985 for the princely wage of £55 a week, which really pissed me off because that was the rate for under-18s, and my other friends working there all got £70 for the same job.

Most boring thing I have ever done, and I only stuck it for about two months, rather than the intended five (luckily it was just a gap-year job, and I already had something lined up abroad for the second half).

Started full time work in 89. We had mainframe computers with terminals and internal email. Two printers for about 80 people and you had to walk 1/4 of a mile down a corridor to get to them. Moved onto Wordperfect and Lotus 123 before Windows came along. The colour photocopier was the size of a car. This was in a fairly hi-tech multinational.

I still do Ctrl B for bold.

At a Saturday job in Bejam, circa 1984, we had those tills with the big push down buttons and no conveyor belts, you had to count the change backwards to people, 36,38,40,50 one pound, thank you.

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 18:43:32

Oh yes - ashtrays on the desks and the scary telex machine. They were gradually being replaced by faxes when I first started work. I did a business course with secretarial studies and learnt pitman shorthand and blind typing. The typewriters were electronic though at that stage.

In the early 90s, it was recommended that the company bought me a PC for writing letters etc. I did a word processing course. My boss was HIGHLY suspicious of the thing, and felt the need to keep checking that I was actually working.....though what else I could have done with it is a mystery...solitaire maybe?

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 18:47:34

I still use Ctrl B to get bold! Remember wordperfect?

I used a manual typewriter first, then an IBM golfball (with self-correct ribbon that was like * magic *.

I remember a room full of computer, had to be specially air conditioned and only one person had access. All of this was around 1982.

I must say the only thing that hasn't changed much is wages.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Wed 16-May-12 18:47:47

People don't tell you how much change they're giving you, let alone cout in back these days, do they? I think that's a very recent thing. A bit like how barstaff now can't add up a round in their heads, and have to consult the computerised till.

I don't blame any decline in mathematical ability on schools. My mental arithmetic was cack before I started work in the 80s; I blame it on lazy-arsed cashiership angry

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 18:48:09

yy to Lotus and Wordperfect.....The betamax of pc programmes.....

Oh and I had to do cc on letters and faxes and spend AGES photocopying stuff, just so Big Boss could see that I had chased a delivery or something - like he cared.....The shocking waste of paper!

Eowyn Wed 16-May-12 18:48:38

I started work in insurance in 87 for £4500 p/a. Smoked at desks & had 3 tea ladies called Rita, Josie & Florrie who looked exactly liked tea ladies should & were scandalised that I dunked my custard cream. The manager was Mr ... & held in awe.
They employed some Indian girls while I was there as they'd been told they ought to & a boss confided in me "they're hard workers you know".

T'was another world.

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 18:50:15

Oh - and the receptionist putting through calls! These days I don't even have a landline at work....

VivaLeBeaver Wed 16-May-12 18:50:25

We had a typing pool. If we had something that needed typing we'd go and give it to a typist from the typist pool.

We had a horrible ring binding machine to bind reports that I could never work. Someone would take me every week and show me how to work it and in the 18months I was there I never did figure it out.

BikeRunSki Wed 16-May-12 18:51:22

When I started my first proper graduate job in the early 1990s it was acceptable to make very sexist remarks about women on building sites, however much they were disguised as gentle teasing (or not).

Ten years later I got statement on my disciplinary records for whispering a very slight innuendo about a male collegue tis female one. The type of remark I used to get ten times in the mornings before I'd even put my hard hat on.

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 18:51:25

The trolley used to bring bacon and sausage rolls at 10,30. <<salivates>>

I didnt work in the 80s as I was too young, but I remember begging my parents for a CB radio. They told me I could get one when I was 15.

By the time I was 15, they were obsolete and laptops/internet were the norm.

EnjoyResponsibly Wed 16-May-12 18:54:07

I worked for Lloyds Bank in 87.

You got paid more if you had A levels.

Smoked in the back room.

Didn't open til 9.30 and closed at 3.30, home dead on 5.

We called the manager Mr X.

We had a messenger that brought tea twice a day.

If a customer cashed a cheque we had to check their balance on a print out generated at previous days close of business, and their signature against a huge drawer of index cards.

Those horrible ring binding things are still around, I have to use one occasionally. My mum had an IBM golfball typewriter, before that one of those ones with the long metal keys that jammed all the time. Tippex on little sheets of paper that you put agains the paper and typed over.

The standards were high in Bejam though, very strict uniform code, no eating, drinking or chewing at the till, no cash on your person, no wearing your uniform outside the shop. I tut (mentally) at shop assistants who can't work it out if I offer them the right change after they have rung my ten pound note up on the till.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 18:57:40

I used to stitch legal documents with a needle and cord. Do they still do that?

Oh and those credit card machines that you had to run backwards and forward over carbon paper slips.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 19:00:02

Bejam! What happened to them? They were an alterntive Iceland?

AreWeHavingFunYet Wed 16-May-12 19:02:06

And people used to talk about the paperless office of the future and when companies bought in new computers people said they wouldn't need to be upgraded for decades as they had such fast processors...

MistyRocks Wed 16-May-12 19:03:20

i was a child in the 80's too. got my first proper job in 2000, but it still amazes me looking back that there was a smoking room in the office shock

and the computers didn;t all have the internet, there was only one or 2 in the office that had internet.

and we still used faxes.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 19:03:34

I remember working on Amstrads for a while. I could debate endlessly the advantages of Wordperfect over Word 5.5. I was a geek before they even existed.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 19:04:55

I remember not wanting to eat lunch at my desk because it was too smoky and there were ashtrays everywhere. shock

AngelsWithSilverWings Wed 16-May-12 19:05:20

My first job was in a bank branch in the City of London in 1988.

I remember my first task everyday was to help sort all of the cheques that our customers had written and paid to people into alphabetical order. There were thousands of them

We had a dragon of a supervisor who hated me and the feeling was mutual ( she seemed ancient to me but she was only 23!)

All senior staff were known as Mr this or Mrs that.

I hated the fact that everyone smoked , even the cashiers serving the customers.

In those days banks in the city closed at 3pm and we would be sent out to buy cream cakes for everyone and then doss around until 5pm when everyone left on the dot!

Things had changed a lot by the time I gave up my banking career 20 years later.

MrsEricBana Wed 16-May-12 19:06:36

Oh yes, very first job (1986) - electric typewriters, accountant did everything on a huge calculator, receptionist brought round tray of tea regularly, prayer meetings in the conference room, no smoking but only because the boss had stopped and didn't want anyone else to smoke, paypacket, no computers at all, binding machine, carbon paper!

MrsEricBana Wed 16-May-12 19:08:04

More shocking was that my school had 2 common rooms for sixth formers - smoking and non-smoking shock

AngelsWithSilverWings Wed 16-May-12 19:08:17

Enjoy - I was at Lloyds too!

QueenofPlaids Wed 16-May-12 19:08:36

I was too young to work in the 80s but my mother was a schoolteacher. I remember her staff room being absolutely thick with smoke (which escaped into the corridor around it) and that whole area of the school reeking of stale coffee. Don't know how the (very few) non-smoking teachers could stand it - yuk!

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 19:08:39

I remember the MD going on a business course and coming back with fancy ideas, making the tealady give a presentation about her job, and how proud she was of it. Loads of self-affirmation nonsense going on, and the early days of 'team-building'.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 16-May-12 19:10:11

We had a smoking room in the hospital until the smoking ban came in which was only about 5 or 6 years ago!

It was opposite the canteen and there used to be clouds of smoke billowing down the corridor.

Smoke billowed out of the staffroom door at my school every time it opened.

Bejam were around before Iceland and taken over by them years ago.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 19:12:20

I remember green screen, orange screen and then suddenly it was wysiwyg (but only if you pressed F6)

VivaLeBeaver Wed 16-May-12 19:13:12

And when I was 17 I had a job in a builder's merchants where every sale (both trade and non trade) used to have an A4 carbon copy recipt. The top copy would be given to the customer and the bottom copy would be filed.

My job would be to file the recipts in numerical order - they had something like a 10 digit number in the top corner. I would spend all day filing bits of paper. Fuck knows why they had to be filed but there was a room the size of 5 tennis courts full of filing cabinets and a team of filers.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 16-May-12 19:14:08

Sometimes I was allowed to help out in the Sales dept and had to add up accounts using a calculator which printed paper out the top of it.

Mirage Wed 16-May-12 19:14:50

I was on the YTS in 1985.I'd actually got a 'proper' job,but the wages were so low and my bus fares so high,that I was better off doing the same job on the YTS on the princely sum of £27.30 a week.I worked in an independent fashion shop and we used to pass the time by wearing the clothes and jewellery [jade green jumpsuits and oversized silky shirts anyone?] I used to take the days takings to the nightsafe at Lloyds bank every night on my way through town.

When the shop closed down,I went to Richard Shops,and then Lewises after that.Lewises was great,I learnt more maths there calculating my staff discount in my head than I ever did at school.We also had those vacumn tubes to send money up to the cash office from the shop floor-you'd put cash & till printouts into a little canister and it would whoosh up the tube.I loved working there and was gutted when it closed down years after I'd left.I can still remember my staff number,400739.

My company was very keen on self improvement and we jumped on every quality bandwagon going, we had Quality Circles, Just in Time, Statistical Process Control, Deming, you name it.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 19:17:13

Deming? sounds scary.

LaFataTurchina Wed 16-May-12 19:18:34

I remember my mum showing me round her office as a small child - so 1990 I guess. She was in an office with 3 typewriters and 1 pc. No one wanted to touch the pc and they all type-wrote instead.

LaFataTurchina Wed 16-May-12 19:18:54

*type-wrote? WTF? Typed!

It was someone's name. That's all I remember! Just endless new initiatives which were going to make things better. Unfortunately they were very bad at predicting what was going to happen in their industry and are teetering on the edge of oblivion now.

My first job when I left uni in 1999 was in an antiquated leather factory as a temporary secretary. The owners were three ancient men who referred to me as Miss X and expected me to call them Sir or Mr X. I was told to wear skirts and there was no cOmputers just an electric typewriter!

KatieMiddleton Wed 16-May-12 19:22:09

I went to work for a large/medium-sized national bank in 1999. The system for managing credit based products ran off DOS. They got an "intranet" and we were all taken in small groups to look at it. Or rather 5 of us stood round a PC and looked at the static homepage and made "ahhhh" noises.

I went to work for a bigger bank in 2001. All branch account systems ran off DOS. We used to write letters to customers using Olitext. I used to have to balance the ledgers monthly and investigate discrepancies. My tools were a pencil, ruler and an adding machine with a thermal paper roll.

In 2006 I went to work for another bank. Most major system updates were done on a DOS system.

By 2009 they were all owned by the same multi-national and had one of the most sophisticated computer systems in the world. Unfortunately the staff still leave something to desire...

BeaWheesht Wed 16-May-12 19:22:20

I remember my dad had one of those massive car phones - I seem to remember he had to drive around for ages before he found a signal too.

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 19:24:18

I remember my part time waitressing job, where one night it was dead so the boss sent me upstairs to his flat to do his ironing! I was well chuffed as I just stuck the tv on. I ironed a mountain of shirts....Ironing has never been my thing though so boss moaned for weeks about the odd creases....He never got me to do it again.

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 19:26:36

I remember being bloody AMAZED when I did my first Excel training....that computers could do such stuff.

jellyhead Wed 16-May-12 19:27:37

I was a student nurse in the 80s. The sisters ooice had huge glass windows to see what was happening on the ward and the staff could sit in there and have a fag

jellyhead Wed 16-May-12 19:30:11

that is supposed to say office smile

My student job in 1988 was at a contract packing company, we used to pack evreything from toys to car parts.

I remember packing Janet Regers (£37 a pair back then!), no heating or hot water in building and only one set of loos flushed. One tea machine that never worked, strictly observed breaks (10 mins morning & afternoon, 30 mins lunch, spent sitting round table where everyone smoked but me). Clocking in & out, collecting £50 in an envelope for a 40 hour week, most of it spent on our feet. And the "Viv's getting married" vultures descending shortly after the pay packets went round.
One supervisor hated me and made that very clear, other one offered to keep me on. hmm

First permanent job the same year:- smoking in tea room, one mainframe PC for printing labels and e-mail only between eight of us, one phone for whole office. And the typists in the office would lynch you if you did your own typing. Then Lotus 123 and Mass11 arrived and it all changed.

Greenshadow Wed 16-May-12 19:33:54

Started work in 1983 somewhere at the forefront of modern technology. We had computers even back then, but had to go to a special room to use them. Took a few more years to get them on everyone's desks, but I remember using a mouse and Windows before almost anyone else had heard of them.

We could communicate by primitive internal email even back in the mid 80s which we all abused and mainly used to chat to mates.

UnChartered Wed 16-May-12 19:41:04

my 1st job was in a well-known <ahem> unHigh End wink cosmetics distribution warehouse - breaking boxes and because i was under age and not covered by industrial insurance had to collect my pay every day in case someone spotted me and i then wouldn't be allowed back on the premises!

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Wed 16-May-12 19:41:17

I had a Saturday job in Woolworths - the smokers all smoked like chimneys in the dining room - we didn't even think that it might not be nice for the non-smokers.
I can remember the excitement when we got a new stereo system for behind the record bar - as well as a turntable and cassette player it had a CD player - everyone came to look and marvel at it.

I also worked in a restaurant and again, we all smoked in the grotty tiny portacabin where we had breaks.
Pay packets were collected weekly - on payday the restaurant owners used to invite everyone to the pub they owned for one half price drink after work - of course, loads of people ended up spending lots of their hard earned cash at the bar

When I was in university in the 80's we used to smoke through tutorials

Not long ago I stuck my Boots Advantage cards in one of the machines instore where you can get extra vouchers. It crashed, so I got the assistant over, he unlocked it and put it into computer mode, looked as though it was running on Windows 3.1 from where I was standing, no wonder you can't use your advantage points for online orders.

MistyRocks Wed 16-May-12 19:43:12

mrsericbana that has just reminded me, my school had a smoking room for 6th formers as well - and i did my a levels in 1998 shock

PastaLaVista Wed 16-May-12 19:43:31

I worked for a drinks company and we could help ourselves to unlimited wine to accompany our lunch. A lot of people must have been over the limit at the end of the day when they drove home.

We had a total alcohol ban at my company - you weren't even allowed to bring in your lunchtime shopping with a bottle of wine in your carrier bag. Even if you had an evening function in the restaurant (they had a very active social club set up) it had to be dry. Could go to the pub at lunchtime and drink as much as you liked without anyone batting an eyelid though.

Olympia2012 Wed 16-May-12 19:47:35

later on working as a police officer in early 90's..... A line skirt ( trousers only just becoming an option, but not then I joined. It had a long pocket concealed inside for our issued WOODEN truncheon!! We were also issued a HANDBAG.

And we wore the little black an White checked tie!

notcitrus Wed 16-May-12 19:50:02

1992, started gap year job with large computer firm, programming mainframes etc. Manager would come over and use his BO as a weapon, lifting his arm onto your cubicle wall and you would go 'yes Ian, no Ian, three bags full Ian', just to get him to go away as fast as possible! He wore one shirt all week as his hacked-off wife had gone on strike some years earlier and refused to wash and iron any more shirts.

Same chap would also scream abuse at anyone when in a bad mood, blokes routinely being a f***ing c* and women a silly bitch... while in between saying regularly 'I don't understand sexual discrimination against women - they look so pretty around the workplace!' The other chaps were fine, pure old-fashioned geeks. I'm sure I could have come to work naked and half of them wouldn't have noticed!

jodee Wed 16-May-12 19:50:31

Started as a teenage secretary for Midland Bank (Wills and Probate) in 1985, I didn't have to do a typing test, but I had to do a geography test of places in the UK ("can you locate The Wash on the map?") - passed with flying colours! smile Very relevant, living in Croydon.

Lots of smoking in the office of course.

RockinD Wed 16-May-12 19:52:43

Six secretaries in one room, the deafening sound of manual typewriters, some of which are older than us, five of us are smokers, but we kindly let the non-smoker sit next to the window.

An hour and a half for lunch - time to go home and come back. I used to go home and walk the dog, and then eat my lunch at my desk when I came back.

One of my colleagues gets hauled in by the senior partner for 'behaving like a shop girl'. She had walked out of the office and lit a cigarette. Smoking in the street was not acceptable - now you can't smoke anywhere else!

My boss, who I loved dearly, told me that his main recruitment tool was the Elbow Test. I asked him to explain. His response was something like this 'Stand there (facing the wall) and put your elbows on the wall. If your tits touch the wall as well - you're in!'

The senior partner's secretary reminiscing about when he had come back to the office after his war service...and the huge pile of Health and Efficiency magazines we found in her desk when she retired.

A nice man from the bank coming to talk to all the lady employees about having a bank account, and some of them saying that they would like to, but their husbands wouldn't like it. They carried on cashing their cheques.

Happy memories...of the 1980s


LemonMousse Wed 16-May-12 19:53:49

In our offices (early 80's) the computer was so big it lived in a special dust free room of it's own. It was about the size of a garden shed and only a few people were allowed in there to change the massive tapes on it. You had to be very high up the pecking order to be allowed in 'The Computer Room' grin

There were about 50 key terminals for inputting data - this was a specialised job that required 6 weeks training - I never made the dizzy heights of Data Processor.

Everyone smoked - at their desk, in the corridors, in the loos. We used to go to the pub on a Friday lunchtime and get quite drunk. On my 21st I was so drunk in the office I kept sliding off my chair. My boss sent me to sit in the toilets until hometime with a cup of coffee blush

FreudianSlipper Wed 16-May-12 20:00:00

i started working in 1989 for a company that shipped fine art and antiques for companies such as bonhams and christies

we would have fine works of art in by picasso, dali amoung many others (often seen on antiques road show that week) and very expensive antiques. it was set up a little like a shop (no security) and smoking was allowed in teh office even with lots of packing materials around

though when we had a monet painting in we did lock the front and back doors and no smoking was allowed smile

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 20:00:29

I still remember having a fag on the tube on the way home from work...

zukiecat Wed 16-May-12 20:02:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I remember going to work with my dad for 6 weeks over the summer holiday

He said they needed some help in the stores which i was happy to do

I was there for a while when a fairly senior man arrived, he took one look at me and said

"oh, you can't possibly work in here, you are female go and get something to do in the kitchen. Washing up or something"!


He was well known for being a HUGE chauvinist and very unfaithful to his wife, but still shock

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 20:24:29

I remember a colleague having a long lunch every Friday because she would get her hair done then. Every week.

orangeandlemons Wed 16-May-12 20:25:34

One colleague used to think it was OK to grab and try and hug me all the time (He was a twat) When I tried to complain I was told "He's only having a bit of fun" hmm


Being sent abroad with work. I was told you are the first "girl" to go abroad. I hope we haven't made a mistake and won't do something stupid like crying.

My gay colleague being told that he had finally been accepted by the salesman. His retort was "that's good of them, I haven't accepted them yet" grin. Other office staff talking about bumchums, and turdhunters in front of him hmm

One memeber of staff asking an African girl who worked there if it was true that all darkies had big knobs shock

No one realised what they were saying

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 20:33:59

I think they knew what they were saying, they just didn't care about what they were saying.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 20:36:13

I also remember a lot of people swanning about offices doing very little, and a few people with heads down doing all the work. I remember weird pecking orders where the longer you had worked there, the less work you actually did.

I also remember in the days before the internet and email it seemed to be perfectly legitimate to spend hours on the phone chatting to friends, getting car insurance quotes etc. For the latter there was no other way really as they were all 9 to 5 services anyway.

It was reputed that a lot of the night shift just slept for most of the time (the factory manufactured photographic film and was in darkness, so entirely feasible that no one would notice).

orangeandlemons Wed 16-May-12 20:43:33

I remember that pecking order thing too.

My first job was in a TV newsroom. Al scripts were typed in triplicate x2 on electric typewriters and the autocue was typed on a paper roll, then cut up and stuck together again with glue as the running order changed. We had word processors and a fax machine with thermal paper (1988).

Huge pub ashtrays on all the desks; the room was just one big fog. There were always lots of heated arguments and the occasional fight - although I'm sure that continues in newsrooms all over the world.

Many of the women there wore Benetton clothes and Poison perfume too.

ibuyjaffacakesnow Wed 16-May-12 20:46:28

I think we used to call mobiles "carphones".

We had to be addressed as and call each miss or mrs surname on the shopfloor.

smoking at desks

big swithchboards with metal plug things you had to put in (hopefully) the right hole.

Most employers didn't mind training you on the job on computers as long as you could touchtype.

At college to learn to type, keys were covered so you couldn't look so had to learn to do it by feel.

electric typewriters if you were lucky, manual if not.

Interviews were really easy and fairly short.

People smoked in lectures and seminars.

There was a lot more larking about at work and drinking at lunchtimes.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 22:13:57

Ooh it's all coming back to me, one of my very first jobs was in a drugs rehab place and they had one of those (not photo)copiers on a roller thing with sticky ink. Can't remember what it was called.

DonInKillerHeels Wed 16-May-12 22:31:49

My first job in 1988 was as a performing musician, and I doubt that job's changed much.

But when I started university I was still writing my essay drafts longhand and typing them up on a portable manual typewriter. My DH still thinks I type REALLY LOUDLY (but boy do I type fast grin )

frankie4 Wed 16-May-12 22:38:10

I remember my (female) colleague was called into out boss's office and he told her not too wear a trouser suit to work but had to wear a skirt. This was in an office, not in a public role with a uniform!

ibuyjaffacakesnow Wed 16-May-12 22:38:11

You had to type a "stencil" for the roller copier thing. You couldn't make any mistakes on it, couldn't correct it, I seem to remember. Trying to remember what it was called.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 22:40:03

Was it a photostat machine?

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 22:46:02

Ah just looked it up, it was 'cyclostyle'. Yes, I have cyclostyled paper. If I remember the originals were like thick carbon paper that you could type on?

Photostat was an early photocopy, a precursor of xerography dontchaknow.

Eightgoingonfourteen Wed 16-May-12 22:51:06

Jean - I also worked in an office in the early 90s where I had to share a computer with another girl. It was on a sort of turntable and we had to swivel it round to our side of the desk to use it. I remember the day when this machine was retired and we each got our own computer - with Windows and a mouse - so exciting!

My first job was in the late 1980s and I used an electronic typewriter. This had a memory and could store around 500 words, enough to write a letter. There was a tiny screen into which you typed the text. Then you pressed print and the typewriter typed out the letter for you automatically. It seemed so modern at the time.

queenannelegs Wed 16-May-12 22:52:39

I remember we had a computer which we had to run this looooong length of kevlar(?) tape with punched holes in to program it every time we wanted to use it. The computer equipment fairly filled the room!

Also the ahem banter would be sexual harrassment now.

MuddyDogs Wed 16-May-12 22:55:29

I worked at the Golden Arches from age 13-16 to support my horsey habit. To this day, I still "clean as I go" grin blush.

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 22:56:42

Oh Eight I remember those machines, I loved those - were they Phillips? Being able to go back and delete something without using tippex was revolutionary. I had one but it would only print one line (when you hit the carriage return).

KitCat26 Wed 16-May-12 22:57:23

My mum remembers people smoking in the office when she was pregnant with me (1982), and her SIL getting drunk at her leaving do for maternity leave, unthinkable these days.

I started working in 2002 for a company that had a DOS based computer system shock. They finally updated to a modern operating system after I'd been bewildered there for 6mts.

I couldn't get my head around three things: the two colour text only screen, no mouse and if you push one wrong button and your entire client database would print on that holey paper- and take two days to print cause you couldn't cancel it!

maybenow Wed 16-May-12 23:00:05

the only job i had in the 80s was a saturday girl in saxone where i earned £1.66 per hour... two years later i moved to clarks for £2.52 per hour and was well chuffed grin

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Wed 16-May-12 23:01:35

I remember fondly my first couple of jobs,
using carbon paper in the typewriter so I didn't have to write the orders out twice white copy for the customer yellow for our files.
Everything in paper files. the only electronic stuff was in the room with the accountant and he had a huge computer monitor and keyboard.
We felt very modern because the office had button phones not dial phones.

TIDDLYMUM Wed 16-May-12 23:01:50

God what a fab thread!!! I worked for Nat west starting in 1988. MY wage was £330 a month (including 'large town allowance')We all smoked and had massive glass ashtrays with the NW logo. Spent most lunches in the pub and went out to Manchester's ST Ann's Square every Friday night from 5pm... Horns..Ronnie's Cafe Bar and the Conservatory..... Age 17, not a care in the world..... Best time of my life!!!!!!

ibuyjaffacakesnow Wed 16-May-12 23:01:54

was cyclostyle the make, like hoover for vacuum cleaners? I think we called it a duplicator, but not sure Yes very thick sticky sort of carbon paper with a top layer to it.

TIDDLYMUM Wed 16-May-12 23:03:08

Also for us old Natwest types.... The B90 machine!!!!!!

Gerstetner stencil?

mathanxiety Wed 16-May-12 23:21:07

I remember telexes and fax machines (and trying to sort out where one fax ended and the next one began first thing in the morning) and as I worked in a hotel back then I remember how much guests were charged for sending and receiving them and it was about ten times what you would pay now if you even had to go somewhere to do that (and who sends a telex these days?). We had credit card imprinters instead of scanners and each copy (pink, white, yellow) had to go to its assigned destination. All bills were on the same coloured-type carbon paper and the same sort of system obtained. Windows was the big new thing in word processing. The audio-visual department had overhead projectors and other cutting edge equipment for business meetings, hired out at a huge cost, and transparencies for sale..

I also remember a huge copier called the Kodak 500 that took up most of a small room. It could copy vast documents, collate, do two-sided copying, staple and spit out jobs at a terrific clip but it constantly broke down. We were all sent off to do a day's training so we could operate it. I spent a lot of time up to my shoulders in the bowels of that machine fishing out staples and crumpled paper.

In school back in the late 70s and early 80s, it was known that there was a computer, but it was kept locked away in its own special room..

ibuyjaffacakesnow Wed 16-May-12 23:30:58

Busters I didn't remember Gerstener stencil, but just looked it up and found a picture and that is what it was! Joined together at the top, it had2 0r 3 layers to it.

I used to do my department's stationery order in the mid 1980s and Gestetner stencils were always on the list. I never knew what they were lol!

leguminous Wed 16-May-12 23:36:17

I was only born in 1983, but I do remember going into my dad's office with him one morning when I was very little (suspect Mum had come into town to go to the doctor or something). He worked for a building society and I was let through into the back room where they kept the one solitary computer. It must have taken about half a flipping hour to boot up.

They all smoked in the office. And he had an official company suit that he had to wear, with a company tie. I have such vivid memories of hugging him when he came home and smelling the mixture of stale smoke, cold air and vile polyester. grin

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 23:43:21

The cyclostyle was also called the Gestetner (invented by him) (in Tottenham London, in 1906) and also called Mimeograph or Mimeo - the stencils were waxed mulberry paper. I told you I've been reading up on it!

PeriPathetic Wed 16-May-12 23:46:32


First job in 1981 - used that copying machine thing. I also had a Commodore 64 as the boss wanted to be the first with everything. I used to program it to make pretty patterns of stars.

Second job - also 81, Nat West. When someone wanted to open an account I had to handwrite the details into a massive book. B90 terminal, yup!

And printing cheque books by hand on this Heath Robinsonesque machine: name and number was embossed on a brass plate, a ribbon of magnetic ink and a nifty double handed action to print each individual cheque!

The boss used to get legless a couple of times a week and proposition the secretary mercilessly. Somehow he wasn't creepy about it. Weird.

Duckypoohs Thu 17-May-12 01:45:19

I had a Saturday job at the pharmacy my sister worked at full time, I can't even remember how much I was paid tbh, probably about £15-£20 I reckon for the day. I really liked it actually, was ever so slightly mortifying when embarrassed boys were trying to buy condoms though, don't know who blushed more (I was 15 grin).

Horsetowater Thu 17-May-12 02:58:28

Actually my first job (Saturday) was Woolworths - used one of those tills with the three rows of buttons for £ tens and units. It went 'ker-ching' and everything! The whole shop stank of fertilizer which they sold in the gardening section. My friend had a job on the record bar, I spent most of my time dusting the makeup stands. Music got me through the day though.

Toomanycuppas Thu 17-May-12 03:55:37

My first job in 1981 was secretary to the MD and Engineering Manager, I was 17 and straight out of secretarial college and tight gits only wanted to pay the most junior rates but for somebody who had to have a lot of responsibilty. Looking back I really don't know how I coped. I sat next to the purchasing officer who smoked roll-your-owns all day long.

We had the tea lady, Mavis was her name of course, and she used to cook the lunch for all the managers every day down in the canteen. Remember the giant teapots?

There was a lot of unwanted attention back then and I remember one day our telex machine operator (yes, that was her role) came out of the store room in tears and very shaken up. Nothing happened to the sleazy manager. Nobody said a word but all the girls avoided him.

Tee2072 Thu 17-May-12 06:39:11

I actually worked for a company in 2004 that had a tea lady!

theodorakis Thu 17-May-12 06:45:35

I am now going to re watch Ashes to Ashes tonight!
I worked in a shoe shop aged 14 £1.14 per hour

theodorakis Thu 17-May-12 06:47:08

And i remember the wonderful smell of the purple inked duplicated papers, still warm...

orangeandlemons Thu 17-May-12 08:46:59

I worked as a designer during this time, and as often sent to Hong Kong.

Clearly rememebr very early digital transmission of designs. Staning in front of a computer watching a design download onto a screen. It took about 20 minutes. We were absolutely gobsmacked by it.

Orangesandlemons, my role was in marketing, and it was cromalin proofs with overlays and artwork stored in huge folders.

crazyspaniel Thu 17-May-12 09:13:44

I'm too young to have worked in the 80s, but my job in my gap year on leaving school in the early 90s was in a publishing house. Some of the guys who worked in advertising sales used to do lines of coke off their desks. Drinking (and getting drunk) at lunchtime was considered acceptable. One of the sales guys had a lambourghini, which he always parked right outside the office, despite parking restrictions. One day a traffic warden turned up and started to write out a ticket, and the guys chucked water from buckets on her out of the second floor window.

orangeandlemons Thu 17-May-12 09:53:16

Yes, we did most of it by hand then. Remeber once being introduced as "one of the girls who colours in" angry

We got a huge CAD system just before I left in early 90's. Had an entire room to itself that had to be kept dark and cold all the time. It was like a nuclear winter in there

Saltire Thu 17-May-12 09:58:27

My first job was after school, in a wee fruit and veg shop where I got paid the grand sum of 50p per hour.
Then I left school and got a job in the mail order dept of a well known company and got the sum of £45 a week, which was standard pay for under 18s at the time (1986/7)

Then I got shown how to work the "word processor" and electric typewriter,a nd had to do eltters to epople and input stock data. Still only got £45 a week for it.
#Then in 1988 at the age of 17/18 i got a job in an old folks home, many a time I'd be left in sole charge of 25-30 residents. Also we had 1 person on to nightshifts, there was no proper lifting and handling or proer health and safety things like there would be now

JessCartandahorse Thu 17-May-12 10:18:47

I worked for an insurance co in the eighties and we all had our own computer terminals connected to the mainframe computer in Scotland.

Fairly frequently the mainframe would "go down". Whoever spotted it first would stand up and call across the open plan office (about 60 of us) "Computer's down!!" to which there would be a collective groan and then a couple of hours of complete idleness. Happy Days smile

tb Thu 17-May-12 11:26:04

First job, I worked with radioactive sewage - lovely!

Left that and worked in IT.

Katie In the 1980s was designing the changes for an online real-time banking system (Shit! - that will out me). It was the second one that this bank had had, so they were around, just not very common.

As a contractor, worked on the new branch system for one of the high street banks. Some stupid sod had decided to have cheque accounts in the new system, BUT standing order payments were outside it. And, where are most standing orders paid from?? Yes, cheque accounts!

Worked on a 286 - before pentium chips - with Supercalc, a dos-based spreadsheet. You could go to the loo, boil the water in the kettle, and it still wouldn't have finished saving a file. Supercalc was brilliant, cost £80 when Excel was about £400, and in deference to Lotus, you could use Lotus keystrokes as commands.

I still use ctrl-c/v/x, it's just quicker when you're used to it.

BuntyPenfold Thu 17-May-12 11:31:47

My first job was Saturdays in WH Smiths. We had to wear tights but kept snagging them on the huge heaps of books and junk stacked in all the corridors,and it was quite a serious amount of expenditure out of our wages.

My first job out of school was with a taxi company.
I would operate the radio and pick up phonecalls.

It was constant chainsmoking from start of shift to end.

I remember one really quiet Sunday morning I stood on a chair and took a damp cloth to the ceiling...

Big mistake.

It came away like thick black tar dripping off the ceiling.

So I wrote my name in it.

Oh and this was in 2000!

Get0rfMoiLand Thu 17-May-12 11:42:02

My first job was in 1990 working in the summer holidays in an ice cream and sandwich kiosk. The chain smoking owner used to bugger off home and leave me there. I earned the grand sum of £1 an hour which seemed like riches. I remember taking home £60 a week so worked all the hours. I was 12!

The next year I got £2 an hour because I took over a larger ice cream shop in the chain of crappy shops this woman owned. The girl who previously worked there was very disgruntled by my taking her job and smacked me round the chops.

Re working in offices, I have always worked with computers, and always had some sort of rudimentary email system. I think my only nod to the past was printing out purchase orders on an ancient dot matrix printer which kept breaking, and we were all terrified it would finally give up the ghost as the antiquated DOS based ordering system would only work with this printer (or something).

I have a vivid and stirring hatred for all Lotus based programs. Fucking Lotus notes. How is that still going (I worked for a company LAST YEAR which still had lotus notes, the twats).

I listen in awe as my colleagues talk about life in offices in the late 80s- smoking, getting pissed at lunchtime, typing pools being ruled by harridans, calling managers sir. Like people say it seems like the 40s, not the 80s.

KatieMiddleton Thu 17-May-12 11:46:07

Oh we had real time updates tb. They were just on system that I'd never seen the like of before! And we had a different system for everything and every distribution channel and none of them talked to each other.

We used to get sent monthly print-offs from head office (to all thousand or so branches) that had to be reconciled. This went on until 2006 when The Spanish came with their computer system that still did stupid things especially with bonds

MustControlFistOfDeath Thu 17-May-12 11:50:04

Oh the memories smile

My first job was in the late 80s at a Chartered Accountants, we had to compile our clients accounts using manual ledgers. They were big old leather bound ones, weighed a ton, and god help you if one of the ledgers didn't balance.

2nd job was mental, the company was in a big old converted mansion house, and as plebs lowly accounts staff we were on the utilitarian ground floor. Middle mamagement were on the 1st floor, (slightly better furnishings/ambience etc), senior managers on the top floor (shag pile carpets, wood panelling). Strictly no trousers allowed for the 'girls'. The owners were addressed as Mr <Firstname>. The women were allowed an extra day off at Christmas, called the Christmas Shopping day (until some of the male staff complained smile.
It was like upstairs fucking downstairs. It was 1989. grin

Lilymaid Thu 17-May-12 11:50:36

I'm a librarian and fondly remember that foreign academic books (particularly from France and Italy) were sent uncut ... so I spent lots of time cutting the pages open with a paper knife.
I believe that Victorian ladies used to have to cut open the pages of their romantic novels, but in the 1980s?

KatieMiddleton Thu 17-May-12 11:51:53

We still had Lotus Notes in 2009 at the company I worked for. When the company that bought mine out replaced the computer system, including email, us lowly workers were not deemed responsible enough to have our own email!

I went from looking after £55 million pounds of client money, managing national media coverage at a local level and responsibility for a business with £50 million pound turnover and multi-million pound profit to not being considered able to work an email account responsibly or manage my own staff and time hmm Not that this was personal - all us bought out staff were all treated like shite

CMOTDibbler Thu 17-May-12 12:20:06

My dh still uses Lotus Notes - huge multinational, household name company !

My first job was in 1985, but tiny shop and lovely.
When in 1990 I started a holiday job as a psychiatric nursing assistant, boy, I came into the real world ! We handed out cigarettes about 10 times a day, which the patients would go and smoke on the ward (no smoking room) and staff members would join them. If a patient went missing from the locked wards, then staff from every ward would be sent to join the search party. I remember standing there, aged 18 in my uniform dress, at 8pm getting issued with a torch to go and search by the river for some bloke who had absconded hmm Not much risk assessment there !

Get0rfMoiLand Thu 17-May-12 12:26:23

Good lord at having a holiday job in a psych ward. shock

Funnily enough the two companies which I have worked for which use Lotus Notes are huge, valuable american-owned multinationals. Why they still use bastarding lotus notes I will never know (cheap, presumably).

Colleague: 'I have just sent you a note' <smack>

KatieMiddleton Thu 17-May-12 12:27:53

I bet they just do it to piss you off GetOrf winkgrin

And yes, cheap as chips.

Get0rfMoiLand Thu 17-May-12 12:32:02

Yes. It is all about me. grin

I know it sounds incredibly sad, but when you start the first day at your new company in a sparkling new job and realise they use bloody lotus notes, you know that your IT equipment is going to be a bag of shit, and it is depressing.

The last company I worked for didn't enable to wireless on the company laptop. I was expected to work all hours and had to sit at home with a great big cable running through the house from my laptop to the router, tripping everyone up.

KatieMiddleton Thu 17-May-12 12:37:04

Mine was so tight they wouldn't buy an extra flat screen monitor (all of £200 or so). Instead the Head of Projects shock connected up an old monitor in yellowing dirty white plastic to the terminal. I bet his hotel bill was more than £200. It looked like something out of Wall-E. This was client facing too...

But they also used to send a cabbie from Yorkshire down to pick up and deliver laptops. I worked in London. The same cabbie would go to Cornwall or Scotland hmm

This was 2009. And yes, Lotus Notes all the way there!

CMOTDibbler Thu 17-May-12 12:44:23

Getorf - dh's last laptop didn't have wireless either. And although his role involves a lot of time on site, they don't have ipass. And after very long negotiation, his team have just got Blackberries. He writes cheques for £10million a month or so...

It was a proper old asylum - now it looks like this. My parents apparently didn't think I'd last a day !

Get0rfMoiLand Thu 17-May-12 12:45:31

That is nuts.

In the company where I had lotus notes and a crappy non-wireless enabled laptops, I was also not allowed to have a blackberry (so couldn't read emails on my phone and had to plug the bollocking laptop in). They also used to fly people round the world at the drop of a hat. In any other company where you would set up a conference call - nope, you had to fly to Taiwan or New Jersey or wherever. And loads of people had company cars - really nice ones as well, Audis and BMWs. It made no sense to me that they were so profligate in one area but tights as a gnats arse in others.

KatieMiddleton Thu 17-May-12 12:55:57

Where BIL works his boss has a secretary/PA who he dictates his emails to and gets to do all his letters and photocopying because he cannot type or work the computer. I am always astonished at the waste of money and that he is not retiring until later this year!

Now I think about it dh's last laptop used to have to be plugged into the router. He works for a mutli-national where they too will spend ££££ flying people around and holding "events" but getting a new blackberry or whatever is a nightmare. He works remotely too hmm

My first job paid £0.50 an hour. All the staff were paid that. My parents took over as managers and our wages doubled to £1.

Felt as rich as Midas smile

scrablet Thu 17-May-12 13:20:59

We used to call those machines banda machines, Horses, don't now know why, but as ateacher they were great as we had a photocopy limit of about 20, which with 32 in class was not much good. They took ages to fill out tho' and were rubbish if you made a mistake!
This was around 1990, I think.
We also still used BBC computers and believed we were cutting edge when our school got one (between 250) Archimedes!

I think the person mentioning ctrl-B was saying that those commands were printed on the screen in front of her. Think most of us use the shortcuts!

Horsetowater Thu 17-May-12 14:05:45

I still love the thrill of Shift +F3.

Control P was the evil one as that's what would make you end up printing reams of paper off without being able to cancel.

JS06 Thu 17-May-12 15:24:52

I worked at an engineering company in the late 80's and remember one of the directors saying publicly that 'women shouldn't be in engineering, you know". I was also at a meeting taking notes once when the place was fully of men smoking, the air had a blue hue, I couldn't breathe and had the mother of all migraines with the smoke and no fresh air to breathe. They had to send me home.

FioFio Thu 17-May-12 15:29:45

Where I worked there was always a funny smell by the bin and it turned out it was unfortunately a dead body smell shock

AreWeHavingFunYet Thu 17-May-12 19:01:46

shock FloFlo Dare I ask what was in the bin?

Get0rfMoiLand Thu 17-May-12 19:07:28

I had the 'women shouldn't be in engineering' as well, in the 2000s.

He questioned my credentials, and I asked him to step outside (in a corridor which led to the shop floor and goods inward). I gave him a bollocking, the detail of which I can't remember but I do remember finishing it with 'is that in any way unclear?' at which point I swept off like Professor Snape. I remember seeing out the corner of my eye loads of chaps from goods in and stores gaping to see young getorf haranguing one of their senior projects blokes. Ha! Fuck 'em.

JulesJules Thu 17-May-12 19:17:31

That big copying machine with sticky stencils we called the "The Roneo" - we had one in our school library for printing off handouts.

Great thread.

MaureenMLove Thu 17-May-12 19:35:26

Oh, the good old days! My first pay packet was £301.39! I still remember it to this day and that was 1985! grin (Can't remember what I was watching on the TV before the aderts came on though! blush)

Along with my salary, I got about £10 worth of Luncheon Vouchers too and me and the girls would blow it all on a big slap up meal on the last Friday of the month!

Our photocopier machine was the full length of the room, with the stencil thing and a collator on the end. It used to take hours to do what would take 5 mins now! grin

CMOTDibbler Thu 17-May-12 19:42:24

Nice one GetOrf grin. My next holiday job after the above was at a major nuclear physics research site, and on the whole, enormous site I didn't see another woman who wasn't in admin - so it was a bit of a shock to see me on the 'active' floor. At the time they were doing some building work, so it was full of builders, engineers, and physcists, many of whom thought they could embarass me <rolls eyes> but of course my previous job meant this was impossible grin I found snapping my gloves on as I suited up while fixing them with a special look was most effective. Ah, the memories...

Horsetowater Thu 17-May-12 19:55:30

Well done Getorf and Dibbler for setting the chauvinists straight. Women shouldn't do engineering? Please...

Having said that my dd said that the science club at school was 'just for boys really' so perhaps the message still hasn't got through.

Get0rfMoiLand Thu 17-May-12 20:13:24

grin at CMOT snapping the gloves on.

I also worked in a company (making missiles and equipment for submarines) which was the vast majority male. The women there all worked in admin apart from me in engineering and another young woman in project management. The senior blokes were all ex naval commanders. They didn't know what to do with us so belittled us. Bless them. It was good actually because it made me as hard as nails.

Well, not really that hard as nails, as soon as I swept off after haranguing that bloke I went straight to the loo and cried my eyes out. blush. But he never knew I cried.

Goodness me envy.....I am a "trained health care professional" working in the "public sector" where we have recently "upgraded" to "computer systems"....there is approx 1 ancient pc per 5 - 8 staff,none of which use word...wireless unheard of...and I send faxes many times a day,to update our records dept......don't get me started on photocopiers or printers....or sexual harrassment and antiquated hierarchy
Some of the offices circa 1980 sound positively space-age to me........(I am 43...)

BackforGood Thu 17-May-12 20:25:00

We are still using Lotus Notes - didn't realise people thought that was old hat shock

My first thought, like several others, was the people sitting smoking at their desks (I worked in a bank when I left school).

DownyEmerald Thu 17-May-12 21:32:23

My mum used to do my dad's typing at home. Carbon paper, before tippex she used little squares of correcting paper you held over the mistake and typed the same letter again.

I was a v. junior secretary in a university. Started '87 I think. Told off for wearing trousers. Word-processor introduced while I was there - Locoscript on an Amstrad. Funny little discs that went in the side next to the screen. I loved it, much better than my dad's computer which didn't have WYSISYG.

Turning the machine on and getting the C prompt and having to type in what you wanted. In lurid green.

I still ctrl b, ctrl c, ctrl v. Much quicker.

Photocopying millions of memos 23 times, for each member of the department. And taking the post round twice a day to 23 offices, mostly to deliver the memos. I got a lot of exercise!

DownyEmerald Thu 17-May-12 21:35:42

Oh yes and if you were working on a long document - You'd tell the computer to go the end of it and make yourself a cup of tea. By the time you came back it would have got there.

I was typing up someone's thesis and he did move his chapters around a lot. It took me hours just moving around the document, hardly spent anytime actually typing.

Blimey - apart from all the smoking, shite IT and casual sexism I have remembered a stonker.

My first proper job in the mid 1980s was working for an organisation that manufactured military vehicles. We sold them to many international customers. I was referred to as an 'inky finger' as I wasn't an engineer but on the whole I was treated very well compared to some on this thread. All my managers were lovely, it was just some of the senior and junior engineers who were arseholes.

I was one of two clerical assistants in my department, we were both young in our late teens and were both loved up with our then boyfriends. We had a group visiting from Egypt where we hoped to sell them lots of very expensive kit. One of the senior engineers took her and me aside and asked if we would mind accompanying the group of Egyptians to a meal and a nightclub one evening as it might help to secure the sale. He also advised us that if were extra specially 'friendly' there might be a nice watch in it for us but that our bosses would be very impressed with us. shock

We were both offended and horrified and told him to fuck off straight away. We also reported it to our boss and he got the arse kicking from hell. I must stress that this was not the way that the organisation normally operated, it was just one fuckwit who thought he could manipulate junior female staff to get ahead.

Moved on long since and am more senior than him now anyway. Mwah ha ha ha!

Tidybush Thu 17-May-12 23:50:36

When I was 14 I worked as a volunteer in a council run 'old peoples home'. Obviously no thought of risk assessments for young workers in those days - my duties included escorting residents to the toilet, giving them bed baths and even laying out dead bodies hmm.

My first proper job as a 16 yr old in 1985 was as a dental nurse on a YTS scheme. £26.25 a week for 40 hours. In my first week I had to go down to the scariest cellar to develop xrays - working in the dark on my own with chemicals having had 10 minutes training grin

I worked in a medical lab,doing diagnostic testing.

I remember having an ashtray next to my analyzer and smoking ,drinking tea and eating snacks and lunch at the bench.

I remember not wearing gloves shock and wiping the blood soaked tip of the pipette after each use with a kimwipe that got so soaked in blood it would stick to my bare hand ( EWWWWWWWW).

We used to mouth pipette and my friend got hepatitis after she swallowed a mouthful of blood by accident.We used to dread getting sperm counts in cos they had to be collected in the bathroom on site,delivered to the lab still warm and then mouth pipetted into a microscope chamber for counting

We used to draw blood wearing no gloves and using non safety needles,an accidental needle stick was no big deal and considered an occupational hazard, you didnt even have to make up an incident/accident report if you got 1

We used to bring our lab coats etc home and wash them with our household laundry

Its a wonder any of us survived grin

designerbaby Fri 18-May-12 00:05:33

I was 15, and got my first job as a waitress... Only to be told that my skirt was too long (knee length) and my blouse too high cut, and that when I next came to work I should find something to wear which would make the customers come back shock

Actually I'm not sure that was acceptable even in the 80s (this was at the very tail end though - maybe I missed the 'heyday' when even this would've been fine hmm.

Happy days hmm


Devora Fri 18-May-12 00:20:35

Ah yes. Smoking in the office, pub lunches. Sit up and beg typewriters, followed by one shared computer for the whole office (DOS). Typing on triplicate paper - if you made a mistake the whole lot had to come off, separate the three sheets, tippex them separately. Gestetner printers.

Writing memos! Can't remember the last time I got a memo...

Writing minutes of meetings, and listing people by title: Mr Brown, Miss Aspen, Mrs Elephant etc.

Union meetings in company time.

carernotasaint Fri 18-May-12 00:37:25

My first job when i left school was in Tesco Garden Centre in the summer of 1989. I was sixteen and on £65 pounds a week. It wasnt bad money for a young person back then.

NCIS Fri 18-May-12 08:16:13

I had a job in the city in the late 80's and got seriously groped by one chap(hands up my skirt and erection pressed up against me) I never thought about complaining but after slamming my stiletto heel down on his instep and hot footing it back to my office I then worked out how to get my own back.
I wrote checks for his expenses and he would leave the form on my desk when the office was empty so every second one I would shred and deny all knowledge of it's existance.
If it hadn't been authorised I would remove the biggest receipt so that wouldn't get paid. He must have lost thousands over the next two years.grin
Loved the job though.

venusandmars Fri 18-May-12 09:59:15

Was a 'Saturday Girl' in a shop in the 70s. There was a series of power cuts and we continued working - by candlelight. Imagine H&S at the thought of naked flames in a stockroom full of paper and card and inflammable materials.

theoldtrout - similar experiences working an a lab - eating and drinking while using toxic chemicals, mouth pipetting same toxic chemicals shock, surprising we are all still alive. Did learn never to go and work in the dark room with X, unless you wanted to have your tits felt.

mrswimpeydimple Fri 18-May-12 11:08:19

What a fabulous thread, thank you OP.
My first full-time job was as a typist/secretary at age 17 in 1984 at a govt funded scientific establishment. What halcyon days they were. Golfball typewriter, RSA III 60wpm touch typing, was useless at shorthand but fab at audio so boss would dictate onto tiny cassettes that I would pop into my player and stick headphones on and operate the pedal with my foot to stop/play the thing while I typed up the memo/letter/report.

The photocopier was enormous and didn't have a sorter. If you needed multiple copies of a report for a committee meeting you copied one page at a time and then turned round to the table behind and laid out each sheet and then copied the next page and then sorted that out onto the pile on the table, thus collatting the copied document by hand. Took forever!

We also had a tea lady who came round with a trolley twice a day. She was also the cleaner and daily polished our lovely black telephone so it shone. There was also a bun-van that came round to each building in the morning with rolls and cakes. And smoking in the offices too.

After a couple of years the secretaries were upgraded from IBM golfballs to fancy Word Processors. The printeres were huge and sat in special tables with big hard plastic covers over them because they were so loud. The word processing system had to be booted up each morning using big floppy discs in the admin office and we took turns to be in early to start it up because it took ages.

And we had to go on training courses to AES in London to learn how the use the word processing system. Four of us girls went at a time, chauffered up by the MD's driver, staying overnight in a hotel and having and absolute blast and pissup in Covent Garden (Punch & Judy pub, heaving with late 80's yuppies in Barbers with brick-sized mobile phones) and then just about manage to get the tube back to our hotel. All on company expenses, joyous.

And when a working lunch was ordered in for a meeting there was always small cans of pale ale for them to drink!

And Friday lunchtimes were spent religiously at the pub, usually managing to fit three rounds of drinks in and feeling slightly tipsy all afternoon.

All pretty unthinkable now. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

AreWeHavingFunYet Fri 18-May-12 11:11:06

Yes I still use the cntl B shortcuts - my (badly made) point was that back in the 80's these commands would appear on the screen as you typed.

There was no print preview type screen to show you how your work "looked" it was more like lines of code surrounding your letter telling you what you had input.

You had to cross your fingers when you printed that you had remembered to start and end your bold or italics or whatever as needed.

Now when you use Ctrl-B you can see the bold and how that will look when you print. This was not the case in the 80's

Quenelle Fri 18-May-12 11:23:33

My first Saturday job in the mid 80s was in a local butcher/deli/posh provisions type shop. The manager used to 'joke' at the end of the day when he turned the light off in the ladies' toilet "One last sniff of the toilet seat [exagerrated wink]" hmm

In my first real job two of us were smokers and used to smoke in the open plan office, none of the non-smoking management ever batted an eyelid.

threestars Fri 18-May-12 11:47:04

I had a holiday job in a record shop that I'd go back to every holiday in the late 80s & early 90s. We all smoked behind the counter while we served customers! I was considered posh for having Marlboro Lights whereas the others preferred JPS black. The door to the shop was open all the time, even in rain or snow, to encourage shoppers to step inside (or to clear the air from smoke perhaps, now I think about it?).
I was told off for cutting my hair short. The owner told me he'd only employed me because I had long hair.
When Freddie Mercury died we had to re-price all the secondhand Queen records to astronomical figures.

My first Saturday job I worked in the food hall in Littlewoods. The first day I worked on the sweet counter - no pic n mix back then. I had to add everything up in my head because the till couldn't do it. After that I worked on the deli counter. No tongs or gloves - we just used to turn the bag inside out and put that over our hands. 30 years on I can still judge a 1/4 lb of naice ham by sight. And a lb of streaky bacon.

My first proper job was as a trainee accountant and we weren't supposed to wear trousers as the clients apparently didn't like it.

Sorry on my phone and somehow posted to soon

I was going to say we did all our accounts prep and audit papers by hand in pencil. We only use the very scary computers to input the final figures so that it could churn out a set of sccounts which we then checked and took to the secretaries to do amendments. The computer package couldn't be customised at all.

When I first started one of the partners sent me out in my car with a pad of paper to go round all the industrial estates and business parks to make a note of all the businesses in the area. Then I had to go through the yellow pages to find their postal addresses so that they could be used for marketing purposes. It was a horrible job but I made a fortune in petrol expenses. Google has put paid to that little perk - what took me dats could probably be done in an hour or two now.

LukeWarmMomma Fri 18-May-12 13:29:31

I worked for a large mail order catalogue in Worcester and there were 3 canteens - the plebs one (I went to that one!), one for middle management and the directors canteen and I remember someone who worked in the kitchens saying all the food was cooked separately - even if we were all eating boiled potatoes that day they would all be cooked in different pans!

Housemum Fri 18-May-12 14:05:18

Worked in a bank from 1986 to 2003. Back in the beginning, my morning duties involved filing copies of customers' statements into plastic boxes - hoiking up trolleyfuls of grey plastic filing boxes from the vault downstairs (there was a lift at least!), filing the statements in, then taking them all back down at the end of the day. Every so often (6 monthly?) we had the task of putting them into those binder things with 2 posts to put through the punched holes. If a customer wanted a photocopy of a statement over a year old you hand to manhandle this 4 inch thick binder onto the photocopier and hope it copied ok! Eventually we moved onto the technology of having copy statements sent to us on microfiche. Long time later it was all computer based.

I remember the signature cards - having to check the card for every customer who came in to cash a cheque. And checking every cheque that came into the branch over £1000 for the signature.

Cancelling the clearing - checking the date/words and figures/that there was a signature on every cheque, having to initial each one. But NEVER in green ink as that was the colour the branch inspection team used.

Writing notes on i-sheets, every time a business customer called, we had to handwrite a note of the conversation onto this A3 card, they were all filed in alphabetical order. Likewise this was the main record of what overdraft they had, what loans they had etc. Smaller businesses had i-cards, A5 version of the same thing. (i for "information" sheets - sadly they were not a funky Apple product!)

Housemum Fri 18-May-12 14:08:23

And when I first started, the 4 of us new starters (2 male, 2 female) were taken for a chat with the office manager, who said that as we had A levels, we should think about doing our Banking Exams, "this applies more to you boys than the girls". It gave me great satisfaction when one of the boys didn't even pass his probation period, and I did actually get my ACIB. (Qualification that no longer exists, think they do a Financial Services degree now)

BoffinMum Fri 18-May-12 14:33:01

My first pay packet after tax in 1991 was £497.07, less about £44 a month for an all zone Travelcard so I could get to work, and £160 a month for childcare, so I had £293 a month left to play with.

Now after three mot degrees, 20 years more experience, plus tax, childcare and commuting costs I have -£58 a month left to play with.


BoffinMum Fri 18-May-12 14:33:56

three more degrees

Piffpaffpoff Fri 18-May-12 14:46:27

Life Insurance 1988, earning £3963pa. You started off as a 'junior' and your job included going to the typing pool and collecting the typed up letters and delivering them to the correct people. And taking the drafted letters back to the typing pool. There was a buzzer that sometimes went, which was the MD, needing something delivered, there were always fights of 'you go!', 'no, you go!' when that happened cos everyone was scared of going and doing something wrong. Everyone smoked in the office, and more senior people were called Mr rather than by their first names.

When I got promoted to an actual role, we had one computer between 15-ish people, using Lotus 1-2-3 and Wordperfect. You had to be the next grade up to be allowed to use it. However, I was the proud owner of a massive desktop calculator for doing the Very Hard Sums that I spent my day doing. Some lucky people had paper rolls in their calculators, but I didn't. envy. I do recall we spent an awful lot of time capering, and nipping along the road to
Crawfords (precursor to Greggs) for cakes.

suburbandream Fri 18-May-12 14:48:16

My first job was as a secretary on a weekly magazine. I was the only one in the office with an electric typewriter - all the journos had manual typewriters - oh the noise!! When we finally went computerised we all had to go on a course to learn about ergonomics and how to avoid Repetitive Strain Injury (it was going to be the next big thing!). Some high-tech contributors would send in those big floppy discs with their articles on, but most people used to send hand written things or manually typed pages, no email in those days of course so we had to re-type it all, what a bore ...

AmazingDisgrace Fri 18-May-12 14:50:02

Worked in the office at Tower Records. I don't actually recall doing much work just being taken to lunch a lot. We used to have parties in the office and I remember the police telling us off for having the big windows open dangling our legs out onto Piccadilly Circus and drinking copiously, actually I've just remembered some poor PC marching through the shop up to the office and handing my friend her bra back which had fallen out the window. we weren't stripping she just had a spare outfit in the office.

cherrybath Fri 18-May-12 17:36:35

I worked in the City in the early 70s and used to wear those skinny rib sweaters. I remember being told to wear a tight jumper and sit at the front desk. Also, when I left, there was an ode to my boobs in the company newsletter. sad Oh for the good old days before breastfeeding 4 children... (You may have noticed I am not one of the PC brigade)

Glosswitch Fri 18-May-12 17:52:58

I had a job clearing tables at a service station in 1989. It was awful - the smell was bad but it was just so mindnumbingly boring. And the restaurant had this crap "mountain lodge" theme, which included a fake waterfall which I broke by dropping a metal teapot into it (by accident. Probably. Anyhow, no one found out it was me). The one highlight was Michael LeVel (Kevin off Corrie) stopping there once. But actually, I think I may have been out sorting the bins and missed it (and hence imagined it by way of recompense. I get quite confused these days).

Brightspark1 Fri 18-May-12 18:45:25

Getting sacked as a tea lady, working in the kitchen at the London office of Moët et Chandon and going home every day pissed from finishing up leftover champagne, working opposite Harrods when the bomb went off, taking 7 hours to do 2 hours worth of filing( was warned to slow down and make it last. Then I graduated and worked in a hospital, everyone smoked in the ward sister's office, doctors were right even when they were blatantly wrong, and seeing the first HIV patients appear- they were so badly treated. Things really have got so much better.

JuggleBum Sat 19-May-12 06:24:39

How about being told to remove a photo of my husband and new born son as it was "inappropriate" in the workplace?!

cherrybath Sat 19-May-12 12:17:49

I worked in a university for 10 years of so. Mothers NEVER mentioned their children in public, it was almost as if admitting to having children was a weakness.

shockers Sat 19-May-12 12:27:28

I was an apprentice hairdresser. The staffroom was thick with smoke when we were eating and customers lit up while we were standing over them!

My boss had trained under Vidal Sassoon and had lots of anecdotes about long hours and poor treatment (think Monty Python's 'Don't know they're born' sketch), which he felt he had to replicate to build character.

He once insulted a client by laughing out loud when she suggested a middle parting and snorting, "Not with your nose madam!" When she took offence, he said "Shockers, get this lady her coat, she is leaving" and flounced off and left me to it!

orangeandlemons Sat 19-May-12 12:53:48

I remember being told to wear as short as possible skirts when ealing with male customers to encourage them to clinch the business. I didn't thik anything of it at the time.............

SoyYo Sat 19-May-12 16:00:13

I work in Procurement. In the late '80s remember the large electronics manufacturer I worked for had an on site "sports and social club", i.e. pub, ON SITE.
All the older more senior buyers (men of course) would go there every single lunchtime and down two or three pints...goodness knows how they managed any work in the afternoon. And yes we all smoked at our desks.

Idontknowhowtohelpher Sat 19-May-12 16:41:14

In the early 80s I was one of 8 women in a sales office of about 50 men. We were not allowed to wear trousers, it was expected that the "girls" would organise the tea and there were ashtrays on every desk.

After some campaigning the women were told we would be allowed to wear smart trousers in the office - but not if we were going out to meet customers. Within 3 days over 40 of the men had signed a petition that trousers should be forbidden again - as they would rather look at girls in skirts! shock

PigletJohn Fri 01-Jun-12 17:11:44

I remember the tea trolley!

When I started work at S***** Electric in about 2004 (it was by no means my first job) I was amazed that a lady came round with a trolley of tea, buns and (I think) sandwiches.

They discontinued it within a few months of my arrival sad

At the Pru, people leaving or getting promoted used to pay the canteen to deliver a trolley of nibbles (there may have been wine, I can't remember)

Hopefullyrecovering Fri 01-Jun-12 17:22:27

First job after university

Friday lunchtimes, getting drunk. Watching the lunchtime stretch. Wondering if any of us were going to make it back. Around 4 pm was always the point of no return.

UniS Sun 03-Jun-12 23:27:30

I id some work experience in the late eighties, with a touring theatre company that I then joined in 1991. So I'm at the end of this era, but...
The company had a "portable phone", at lunchtime we would take it to the pub with us. It had a shoulder strap and weighed a ton, but it was progress, the previous year someone had had to phone the office from a pay phone twice a day to get box office figures and the like.
The oldest women I was working with ( technicians/ stage managers) were aged 30 (12 years older than I was), they were in senior roles ( and tough as old boots) but it was still considered a bit odd for a woman to be a lighting technician. Lots of people smoked while working.

Another job I had in 1990 , a TV production company, the boss was serious when he told a new receptionist that what he wanted from her was " tits and teeth" to charm visitors. I didn't stay there long as he "preferred grammar school boys for runners as they are polite and well spoken".

I hadn't realised this was still going on! I've loved reading about everyone else's experiences.

Before my first "proper" job, I had a saturday job in the food hall in BHS (with a fetching green and white flowery pinafore, green blouse and straw boater!) The mention upthread of luncheon vouchers reminded me that at Christmas time, customers would come in with envelopes full of the damn things - all differing denominations, including odd amounts like 15p and 35p. They'd then pay for a huge shop with the vouchers, and I'd need to add them all up mentally! Nightmare.

emmanana Sat 16-Jun-12 13:49:07

I remember Luncheon vouchers. Our local convience store near work took them for anything - even vodka and ciggies!

SiSiTD Fri 22-Jun-12 12:08:41

Reading through these has provided considerable amusement.

It reminded me of the stench of the smoking room permeating the school corridors in the early noughties and when my DM told me of her job in the 80's when she went to meet clients and the client would automatically introduce themselves to my DMs assistant as the exec as he was male and get her to make the coffee even after knowing her seniority over him.

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