In 1975, a Business Week article titled “The Office of the Future” predicted the rise of the paperless office. The concept arose as a publicist’s slogan for the IBM 2260 in 1964, which proclaimed the computer terminal as the harbinger of the “office of the future.”
Back then, paper documents were kept in filing cabinets and storage boxes, and when items were misfiled, it could take weeks to track them down. Processes involving large numbers of people like university admissions and student registration generated mountains of paperwork, all of which had to be processed by hand.
It’s no wonder the dream of the paperless office captivated the popular imagination: the thought of being able to process – and locate – information within seconds had enormous appeal.
So what is a paperless office? Exactly what it sounds like: a work environment where paper usage is either wholly eliminated or greatly reduced by using digital formats instead.
With the rise of personal computers and office automation, the use of paper for tasks such as bookkeeping, record-keeping and sending memos would be made redundant, as everything could be stored and displayed on computers. Prolific paper users like schools and universities would use screens to teach students and even homework assignments and exams would eventually be conducted using computers.
However, while Business Week’s prediction of a personal computer on every desk came true, the paperless office has not yet become a reality. Despite advances in communication technologies such as the advent of email, paper documents continued to proliferate.Continue reading “The Paperless Office: 35 Years of Dreaming Digital”