Friday, April 15, 2011

M.....is for Microfilm

or microfilm machine operator, which was my first job at the bank. When some people heard the word "microfilm" they immediately thought of espionage or spy thriller novels but my experience with it was to simplify filing and reduce storage space. I was 17 years old and in my senior year of high school, when I qualified for the co-op program; I could work several hours a day after school and it counted as a credit. I was graded on my job performance determined by a form filled out by my boss. So this country gal went to work in the city, at the main office of one of our largest banks. It was nice because I got paid for it, as well.

What the picture depicts is not exactly the same machine I used (we had three of them) but its very close. The checks went into that feeder she's resting her left hand on. It could film about 400 checks a minute but you had to watch and make sure nothing overlapped or jammed. If it did, you had to redo them. To alert the person who was "reading" the developed film, you had to advance the film by turning that handle on the machine that is just about eye level with the girl in the picture. (the film spool is located behind those little doors) After the advance, you would then re-film the check or checks that had overlapped and/or jammed, then advance the film some more before you continued on with the rest of the batch you were filming. The filmed checks came out into that basket looking tray located under the compartment where the film spool was contained, stamped with red ink "Paid" and the date, along with the name of the bank.

We could never dress like this woman. We wore smocks to protect our clothing as it was a dirty job. The red ink was permanent and paper in large quantities is dirty, believe it or not. Since you were filming, things had to be kept clean inside the machine. Mirrors and glass, not to mention the rollers in the feeder, had to be maintained daily. After the checks were all filmed, they were packaged up securely and left in a locked box in front of the bank for pickup and transit to the local clearing house by a Brink's armored truck.

This job was actually sort of boring as jobs go but I was certainly happy for the opportunity to enter the work-world via the banking industry. I did not greet the public, I worked behind the scenes but I learned a lot while in their employ. After graduation I was hired full-time and after a few months I transferred to the Proof Department (I'll tell you all about it in the "P" post), where I worked for 5 years doing something I really loved. If you have to work....you might as well do something you love, right?

5 comments:

forsythia said...

Makes one wonder how banks kept track of checks before the microfilm machine.

Kathy said...

So many of our jobs ...back then...seem unbelievable to the younger generation!!! Very nice blog and A-Z posts.

I found you with the ‘surprise me’ button. I’m a new follower of yours. I'd love to have you check out my take on the A to Z Challenge, comment and follow, if you'd like.
http://oaklawnimages.blogspot.com/
Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

Martha (MM) said...

Well thanks for making me feel so old today, LOL! :-P

ShirleyAnn said...

Your blog about microfilm jogged my memory about one of my jobs in the early 70's using the mimeograph machine. Very messy and the ink stained bad. But if you did not make any mistakes, you were proud of your finished printing product. Thanks for the memory.

Margaret Hall said...

Ahhhh, yes, we certainly worked on some clunker machines in our time, huh?...This machine WAS messy, never worked on it, but saw it and knew someone that did...This lady in the pic was really a typical ad for those days..no mess, all dressed up...lol..Thanks for sharing with us, Val...

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