I was recently researching in our oral history collection and came across an envelope of what looked like magnetic cards. The envelope the cards were in indicated they were part of an interview with James Farley. Farley was a luminary with The
Coca-Cola Company and was critical to the world wide expansion of our business. He had been the head of the Democratic National Committee from 1932 to 1940 and was Postmaster General in President F.D. Roosevelt's Cabinet. He resigned in 1940 and became Chairman of the Coca-Cola Export Corporation which was responsible for the sale of Coca-Cola outside of the US and Canada, a position he held until the early 1970s.
I sent photographs of the magnetic cards to Paul Lasewicz, the Archivist for IBM to see if he could help me determine what they were. Paul sent back a note identifying the cards as part of the IBM Selectric typewriter system from the late 60s or early 70s. Paul noted "the machine allowed secretaries to type at rough draft speed, then stored the draft in an editable format (the mag card) which allowed them to make any corrections needed before printing the document. You can imagine how this improved efficiency, not just by speeding the typing but by also allowing for soft-copy versions of repetitive documents like form letters. We had a similar product that was based on magnetic tape that was introduced in 1964. Back then it wasn't called word processing - we called it 'power typing'." Unfortunately, they do not have any readers that can process the mag cards, so it is a good thing I also have a printout of the oral history transcript!
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