24th March

I like old buildings and hate to see them fall into disrepair.   I have blogged about a few of them in the past:

As with all old buildings I like to stand and visualize them in their heyday with large groups of people working away.  I see in my minds eye the machinery and hear the clangs and clatters as it is used.  I hear the voices of instruction, correction, encouragement, banter and also the laughter.  I feel the heat, the cold or the dampness.  I remember that children of a young age, often only into double figures, worked long hours for a pittance.

Life back then was very ‘local’.  Without our modern means of transport and communication, life revolved around the mill or factory.  Romances blossomed over or behind the machinery.  One generation followed another into the factory.

I think of the offices with the high desks where the clerks sat on high stools or chairs.  These staff dressed and indeed addressed  each other formally.  There was no going to work in sports wear or looking like you had slept in your clothes for a week and forgotten to brush your hair!

The furniture was heavy and there were no castors to aid with moving it.  Decoration and paintwork were dark and the windows were high and small.  Lighting was poor, and coffee machines unheard of.  In fact eating at work would be frowned on.

All records of the work were hand written into large ledgers using dip pens.  Any mistake, misspelling or ink blot was permanent.  The accounts involved long and cross tots; mental arithmetic, a pencil and eraser the only aids.  Orders, invoices and receipts were hand written ready to be delivered by messenger boys.  Wages were paid weekly by cash counted into the hand of each employee.  The cost of breakages or for time lost was often deducted.  Holidays were few.  In these parts the annual holiday was a day out to Portrush on 13th July.

So today on Ada Lovelace Day* an international celebration of women in technology that centres around the use of blogs.  I am pleased the workplace has advanced to the stage that it is, wherever we are, user friendly bright and warm.

Three cheers to our women in Technology today.  On behalf of future generations we thank you!

* Ada Lovelace was born in 1815, and is recognised as one of the first computer programmers. She wrote programs for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, along with the very first description of a computer and software.

13 thoughts on “24th March

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  2. Nick

    We should have a female inventors day, to recognise all those hardly-known women who created many of the things we take for granted today. Like Letitia Geer (the medical syringe) and Florence Parpart (the refrigerator) to name but two. Baino had a complete list on her blog once.

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  3. Nancy

    Grannymar,

    I have always thought that the very first computer was the old music box or player piano which both had a series of holes cut in brass or heavy paper and spikes that came up and struck the holes. That is how the tunes were created. A forerunner of the keypunch card .

    Do you know if Ada Lovelace had anything to do with either invention?

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  4. Baino

    Cheers indeed, we have a whole section at one of our technology museums, The Powerhouse, dedicated to Lovelace and Babbage .. very interesting.

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  5. Magpie11

    Did Jacquard looms come before the music boxes? They were the first use of punched cards!

    Letitia Geer …medical syringe? They found one in the barber surgeon’s box on the Mary Rose didn’t they?

    As a mere male….I rather relish female inventors and artists…get a bit fed up with Ms Austen et al…goes for dickens too…a man who never used one word when he could use six…he could pay himself more that way..

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  6. Grannymar Post author

    @Nancy – You have me there, the only reference I came across for Ada was her work for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, along with the very first description of a computer and software.

    @Steph – The virtues of vinegar have been known since old God’s time!

    @Baino – The Powerhouse sounds interesting.

    @Magpie – The Jacquard Loom was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801. He improved on the original punched card design of Jacques de Vaucanson’s loom of 1745. I am not sure if the music box was before or after that.

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  7. Nick

    Women inventor day – excellent. Now if only the media would give female inventors more mention as opposed to all the famous males who’re supposed to have invented everything on earth….

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