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How technology has advanced since 1985

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

My technology journey started in 1985 on a manual typewriter.

I was 16 straight out of school and I went to typing college. It was actually a youth training scheme where I got paid 25GBP per week, which was a lot back then.

I was 16, I paid 10GBP in board to my dad and step-mum, and then the 15GBP would pay for whatever else I needed.

15 Pounds 35 years ago was a lot of money. Now 15 Pounds or $15 doesn't go anywhere! But then it did.

So there I was, with a manual typewriter in in the college classroom.

I remember looking up, and there was a board, a huge board, and it had all of the keys from the keyboard on it. When I sat down, with my manual typewriter, its keys had stickers, where the keys should be.

OMG! What do I do now? How do I know where the keys are? The idea of the stickers was obviously to teach us to touch type and touch type I learned!

We started very slowly. I would go home with sore little fingers I'm talking extremely sore.

These typewriters were hard to type on!

Have you ever looked at a manual typewriter or used one? You really did have to bash the keys.

Sometimes, even now, I can tell who learned on a manual by the way they bash the keys on a keyboard!! It makes me laugh.

Learning on a manual typewriter taught me how to be accurate and how to type fast – my speed is still up at around 100wpm (which is pretty fast, even by today’s standards).

I finished my college year with a distinction in typewriting – RSA I, RSA II and RSA III.

I also learned English for Office Skills and much more.

A couple of years later, I went from a manual to an electric and then to an electronic and then to a PC.

The second year, my job, as it were, was with a filter company. They made filters for cars, and I was the Office Junior.

I then got ‘promoted’ and went into the export department.

When I moved into export, there was an electric typewriter, there was still a Telex.

There were no computers in those days, so we had to use the Telex.

We would Telex all the export information to the far away countries (I hadn’t been out of my home town very much at that point!)

When I got to the typing, everything had to be in triplicate with carbon paper.

When you work in the export department, you cannot make one mistake. Not one. If your typing was not accurate, you had to pull those pages out and start again.

No Whiteout, no nothing - you started again.

It brought my accuracy up even more. My 95% accuracy these days was 99.99% when I worked there!

We still make errors. Everybody does, and that's OK. As long as you pick them up.

1986 was a long time ago!

As I write this, I'm 52. I've had a lot of experience in life, in business, in general.

I've travelled a lot.

I have loved.

I've been hurt.

I've hurt others.

I'm not perfect and I'm OK with that.

But back to 1987 – 1987 was when I joined Royal Ordnance (who made small arms guns which I never did actually get to see!). I signed the Official Secrets Act and off I went to the purchasing team.

We worked out of a cabin (it was pretty cold!).

I walked into the office and the manager, Michelle, pointed to a desk with a box and a book. She asked me to put together what was in the box, learn how to use it and then teach everyone else in the team how to use it!


It was the first computer I had ever seen! It was in a box!

Out of the box it came – I got the book (the manual), put it together, launched the DOS based system and learned (over a few weeks) how to set it up, use it and add in all the purchasing information.

I then taught my team how to use it.

Introduction to learning and teaching in a cold, hard few weeks!

I’m so happy now that I was given this lesson.

Over the years, I’ve learned and taught so many different systems.

I helped to build a case management system in a law firm – then taught the whole company how to use it (even the ones who didn’t want to learn or change!).

Now fast-forward to 2019 and I’m running my own business – I didn’t know anything about social media (apart from how to upload a photo to Instagram and speak to my friends and family on Facebook!).

I learned everything – every single thing I could find. I found out how to use it, decided whether I liked it or not and then kept it or discarded it.

Not every piece of technology is worth learning (or keeping!).

What did those early lessons teach me?

I can learn how to use pretty much anything.

I can also then teach others how to use that system in a way that speaks to them.

That’s my gift!

I believe that now – I used to think I was just smart! I am smart – I accept that. That’s not big headed, just realistic.

If you’re ready to learn a new skill, a new piece of software or just a new tip, let’s chat. My door to a coffee or tea is open.


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