I operated what we affectionately called the batch machine at a bank in Los Angeles. Here's what it looked like (that's not me, no one ever snapped a photo of Nancy, the batch operator).
I got to be really fast on the batch machine. Here's how it worked - I would get this big stack of checks and deposits. The checks were entered, then the deposits. If they balanced, the checks went into certain slots. I had to memorize which slot was which. The deposits went into another slot. After everything was entered, the checks and deposits went to some clearinghouse somewhere. Then they came back to the bank and each check was manually filed and checked against the customer's signature. Sounds kind of archaic, doesn't it? But it was 1961, afterall.
I loved working at the bank on Larchmont Blvd. Isn't it a cute street?
Larchmont Blvd. bordered a really rich neighborhood in Los Angeles called Hancock Park. Lots of our customers were really, really wealthy. People like Nat King Cole banked there.
|Nat King Cole's house in Hancock Park|
and Dimitri Tiomkin (composer of the theme song from High Noon).
But I digress. Let's get back to the batch machine. It was developed by Bank of America some time between 1950 and 55 to speed up banking.
The early model was called ERMA (Electronic Recording Machine, Accounting). "The project that resulted in this engineering achievement made the automation of checking accounts practical and reliable, revolutionizing the world of banking system and ushering in the age of data processing machines for businesses."
ERMA's principal users were data clerks (that's me!) who were focused more on the information they processed than the machine processing it (that's for sure!).
In 2001 ERMA received an award recognizing its outstanding contribution toward the standard of living, peace and prosperity (Hey, I was only doing my job!).
If you'd like to read all the nitty gritty about ERMA's development, click here: ERMA.
If you'd like to read about switchboards and other early machines, click here: Sepia Saturday.