I started work in 1974 as a trainee manager for W H Smith’s Sittingbourne branch, they accepted my hard earned 4 GCEs, and took me on at the age of 16. When I say hard earned, it was very hard to revise for them around my desire to play football at every waking moment.
I was rewarded with the grand salary of £9.50 per week. I remember it extremely well, because with my first week’s wages I bought my first ever ‘pocket’ calculator. In fact I had to borrow 50 pence as it actually cost £10.00. More than one whole weeks wages on a piece of kit that we now get given for free or is built into to many other bits of technology. It was not small, and I think it could only be called a ‘pocket calculator’ if you had a Parka Coat – these being quite fashionable at the time.
Everyone talks about BYOD now, but remember this was 1974 – I guess I was way ahead of my time. It would have been a very simple piece of technology as well, doing little more than addition, multiplication, subtraction and maybe square roots. I thought this a vital piece of kit as a trainee shop manager as it would ensure that I completed the ledgers correctly – ledgers – what a great word.
Why then, did I still check everything that I did on the calculator manually? I could never trust it enough, and would still employ the skills learnt at school to check whether this amazing piece of technology was actually as amazing as I thought it was.
Anyone else out there remember their first calculator? Can you remember what you paid for it, or did you work for one of those forward thinking organisations that actually gave you the tools that you needed?
I was intrigued to find this website devoted to calculators from the 1970s – happy viewing