Electronics — Its Possibilities and Limitations
BY VIRGIL F. BLANK PRINCIPAL, SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE
Presented at the Fourth Annual Systems and Procedures
Conference, San Francisco — March, 1955
Industrial progress has not been without its cost in demands on the human being, in both the factory and the office. In the factory, however,
the ingenuity of our engineers has resulted in the alleviation of some of the load on the worker through the design of industrial machines
and methods to meet the pressures of our expanding manufacturing
empire. A relatively high level of factory automation has been realized. On the other hand, the ever-increasing work load in the office has been met, principally, by adding to the clerical force. Office automation
has hot paralleled factory automation.
It is only recently that an apparent key to the office methods puzzle has been given to us by the electronics engineers. Because these engineers designed their original machines as an aid for scientists and mathematicians, there has been an interval of delayed acceptance of this new tool by the business community. During this interval there has been a successful conversion of the basic computer system. These machines have now been developed for business data processing and presently challenge our ingenuity with a promise of potential applications
which stagger, but intrigue, the imagination of every systems and procedure technician.
This is an opportune time to direct our attention to the possibilities
and the limitations of electronic business machines. We now know of the machines which are available or are shortly to become available. We know something, also, of the commercial installations of machines during the past year. Further, we know of some of the applications
being planned by many of the prospective users of this type of equipment. With these data we may attempt an evaluation.
In a review of electronic equipment of latest design, we shall find that the manufacturers have gone far towards solving the problems of input and output which have previously been considered a limiting factor for business applications. It was formerly true that the central com-