Imagine getting off the train and lugging your suitcase without rollers. You are also lugging a locking latch briefcase with your monogram on it. It weighs about 20 pounds since it contains a field manual, your last project binder, a three-hole punch, box of colored pencils, case containing protractor and drafting tools, a sheaf of carbon paper, half a ream of lined paper, another half of white paper, a heavy duty stapler and staples, and reference material you have been toting along because you haven’t been home in three weeks.
You are looking for a payphone so you can “drop a dime” and make a three-minute call to your office and you are lugging the newest and baddest gadget that transforms how you do your business as a traveling management consultant – the all new Remington Rand full-keyboard electric adding machine. For $169.50 plus tax, this baby means you do not have to use your client’s equipment. It weighs a little, but the convenience is worth it. Your carry your portable manual typewriter in your suitcase for ease. You manually produce your spreadsheets, pie charts, and graphs.
The year is 1960. The average annual income is $5,600, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, and you are making almost $10K after taxes. You travel by train because it costs a lot less than air travel. For example, a round trip airline ticket cost about $75 to fly from Cleveland to Washington, D.C. That would be around $400 today. Your client got invoiced for it but they sure liked your electric machine.
In a world without apps, business had been expanding over the previous decade and saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average climb from just under 200 to knock at 700’s door, briefly. People, not programs, made investment decisions. Modern business was like passenger train service – 1960s improvements to 1940s technology.