August 29, 2013

Repairs and Replacements to Movable Equipment

Filed under: found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 3:07 pm

Every year for decades staff members in the Budget Department at Federation worked on voluminous forms and reports as part of the annual campaign of the Greater New York Fund (now known as the United Way of New York City). Unexpected detail often emerges from these budget files, depending on the level of detail necessary to convey an agency’s budget needs for the coming year.

This 1959 budget sheet for The Jewish Family Service, Inc. lists costs in 4 related budget areas, including repairs and replacements to “movable equipment”, printing and stationery, furniture, building repairs and for their (news)clipping service:

Movable Equipment expenses, 1959 Jewish Family Service

Movable Equipment and other expenses, 1959 Jewish Family Service budget items for Greater New York Fund campaign

I find it curious that the smaller costs (i.e. $96 for the clipping service) are itemized, while the larger costs for furniture repairs and replacements ($7447 for furniture replacements) have no detail other than, “furniture”.

Most interesting is that the list of office equipment is so evocative of the era.  In the list of office equipment in the budget area “523 Repairs to Movable Equipment” we can see that in active use in The Jewish Family Service office in 1959 were typewriters of course, and adding machines, and also a mimeograph, a postage meter, a safe, an addressograph, an “I.B.M.” (possibly a data processing computer, a number of which were sold by IBM in the 1950s) and something called a “varityper”.

According to “The Classic Typewriter Page“, “The Varityper (also known as the Vari-Typer or VariTyper) was a highly ingenious “word processor” of the pre-digital age”, used for typesetting, which was eventually put out of business in the 1970s by the IBM Selectric Composer.

Other than “Alterations & repairs” to offices, the only other budget line item from this sheet that we might see today would be for the cost of a replacement refrigerator.  In 1959 the cost was $150; I see a compact refrigerator now on Amazon for $159.  It would be difficult to compare any of the other equipment to the costs of running an office today.

I would like to end this post by pointing out that the horizontal stain running across the top third of the page is from a rubber band, which, in the 50 or so years it was touching this page dried out, adhered to the paper and left a permanent brown stain.


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