Re: History of TW before the PC and the Internet

Subject: Re: History of TW before the PC and the Internet
From: Ginna Dowler <gdowler -at- questercorp -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 09:27:03 -0800

Curtis Brautigam wrote:

> I hope that this will be a very interesting discussion string. Are there any
> TW's on this list who engaged in technical writing before the advent of the
> PC and the Internet (I have the Typewriter-Mainframe era in mind)? ...

I'm not very old, but I had a summer job as a teen at a large mainframe
manufacturer, in their documentaiton department. I believe my official
title was "Revision Girl". Our manuals were sent to head office to be
turned into camera-ready copy about six months before the product was
released (coinciding with the mandatory six-month code freeze -
imagine!). There were invariable changes to be made, which was my job. I
had a laser printer (big news then), a light table, an exacto knife, and
a pot of rubber cement. I physically inserted changed text into the
appropriate pages, moving the existing text down. I did a practice run
first with a photocopy, to determine where to make the cuts so that they
would be invisible. Then I hacked up the real page. It ususally took me
about a week per page, and I spent a whole summer doing this. For this I
was paid the lofty sum of $6.00 per hour, which was twice what my
previous job (at McDonalds) paid, so you never caught me complaining.

As I insert changed text into manuals an hour before they go to press,
regenerate the whole thing, and send it electronically to the printer, I
can't help but compare the process to the "old days".

Ginna Dowler
Project Manager and Documentation Supervisor
Quester Tangent Corporation
Sidney, BC
gdowler -at- questertangent -dot- com

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