Saturday, April 18, 2015


As this is now April in 2015, it seems strange typing this from mum's book which she wrote in the early 1980s but it does give an insight into the minds of people back then regarding the coming of computers.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 186-187)

"Technological changes round the world started to cause a little worry, and a conference was held in Perth with *Sir Lawrence Jackson in the Chair to try to discover whether or not these changes were likely to affect Western Australia in the near future.

People from all walks of life were invited to attend the conference and they included representatives from the **University, employer's organisations, labour unions and specialists from many fields.  Mrs Catherine King and I were the only women present, representing the ***A.B.C. and Council of Social Services respectively.

The subject was very thoroughly discussed and, although all felt a little uneasy at the prospect of coming changes, in the end it was agreed that computers, which were extremely costly, were unlikely to make any great impact on Western Australia for some time, because the majority of our industries were too small to be able to afford the major developments envisaged.

 In a few short years we have proved to be wrong.  The computer age is with us and the cost of these machines is no longer prohibitive.  The children are permitted to take adding machines to school, and we wonder if their mental capacity will suffer.  (Mum you made an excellent good point there!!)

"THE CHIPS ARE DOWN" and we feel helpless and apprehensive at the inevitable changes which threaten our life style, require changes in education, and may even make it difficult for large number of our young people to find gainful and desirable employment.

Unions are already demanding shorter working weeks which they feel may make it possible for more men and women to be absorbed into the workforce, and earlier retirement seems to be gaining support.  (Somewhat different to the present day when the Labor Party extended the retirement age to 67 and now the present government is talking retirement age at 70.  Back in the 1980s women were eligible for the pension at age 60 and men at 65).

 One wonders what are the future problems to be faced by the children of today,

In addition we are concerned with biological research and its frightening discoveries. possibilities and consequences for both the animal world and human beings."

* Sir Lawrence Jackson KCMG (1914-1993) was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.  He was appointed as a Supreme Court Judge in 1949 and became Chief Justice in 1969.

** In the 1980s the University of Western Australia was the only university in Perth.  Since then 4 more universities now exist here: Edith Cowan, Murdoch, Curtin and Notre Dame.

***  ABC of course stands for what was the Australian Broadcasting Commission but now known as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


  1. And yet again, she was ahead of her time...

    1. I remember mum talking most seriously about the coming of computers and how people really believed they would cost thousands of jobs. I've often thought computers make jobs as they seem to be always be going wrong and needing help (not Macs of course).

  2. Like EC said, your mum was ahead of her time.
    I remember being dismayed when my oldest started high school and a scientific calculator was listed in the essential equipment list. We had to pay $20 for one and then again two years later when child #2 started at high school.
    Now with all the technological equipment available in and out of school, we have a whole generation of kids who can't add up or spell. Even hand writing seems to be in danger, with many kids typing on computers instead. In Norway I've heard writing will soon no longer be taught as all children use computers to 'write' their papers.

    1. I've never been happy with children using calculators when doing exams. What happened to mental arithmetic? I remember several years ago at Big W when the power went out. The check out girls were writing down the prices of the goods being purchased and adding up the figures. I added them up (backwards) and got the total before the firl did. I said that the total was correct and she looked amazed that I'd added it up before she had. We used to do that when the corner storekeeper or butcher did the same just to confirm his/her total was correct.
      As far as language is concerned I doubt many of the young of today speak "the Queen's English" any more.
      I know much good has come with modern technology but at times we oldies do wish for the good old days when the 3 R's were so important to our education.

  3. Your Mum was so right in so many has killed off a lot of brain cells yet encouraged growth in others....:)JP

    1. As I said to River, much modern technology has brought with it a lot of good but there is always a downside to even the best discovery.
      With me it's the wish to speak to a human being when I make a phone call instead of a machine. I dream back to the days when there were telephonists who answered calls and were super efficient. Those jobs no longer exist, alongside office girls and office for young people aplenty back then.

  4. Hari OM
    Having been a part of the 'revolution' (first career was as a software engineer), I still clearly recall all the bruhaha - it is such an interesting fact that at each of mankinds major leaps forward in technological terms, whilst much would be gained, there would also be 'loss' - and there were always the 'luddites' and 'saboteurs' who would decry and lament the progress and its perceived damage.

    In many ways, of course, they were/are correct; employment definitely has been affected and the skill sets associated with certain things have mutated. As always, those who thrive are those who have the greatest adaptability.

    The schooling issue is a great worry the world over; I had not seen the report River mentions, but there was a bit of a flurry here in UK recently when it was suggested that English ought to be taught as spoken... sumthin laik dis an derfor no need to cunsurn bout gramma an stuff....

    .............................8~}.............. YAM xx

    1. What you have written is very true Yam and I agree with it but as with all advances in technology there is a down side and I fear that people will eventually lose the ability to have a proper conversation. So much time is spent with their iPhones, iPads etc. and spelling has gone out the window for many,
      I can't imagine people speaking phonetically but then they couldn't if they can't spell could they?
      Oh dear, a lot of it is beyond this poor old soul! xx