As the slide rule post is grinding slowly to a climax, (and I can tell you, I've learnt quite a lot about people from the last post!), I thought I would add insult to perjury by explaining a little more, why calculators are so important in Quantity Surveying!
This really is rivetting stuff, and not for the faint hearted, so Ladies and Gents, pull up a pouffe, pour a green-tea, and I'll begin...
Up until the late sixties, the offices of QS firms operated a form of torture or apprenticeship, which would coincide with the starters getting qualified and moving up in the world. The difference between then and now is that calculators were a rarity, and not the size of credit cards which they are now. The machines we had were about the size of your average multi-tasking printer, with glowing lights and a keyboard rather like a Star Trek display...
(Little known fact - The hardware and software on the rocket and other kit, which took the men to the moon, was not as powerful as that designed into your everyday Beamer 7 series...)!
Anyway, back to Quantity Surveying! This really is exciting isn't it... (more tea Vicar?)
When sprogs were taken on straight from school, they usually had a couple of GCEs and a series of bruises behind the neck from being battered by schoolmasters like the one in 'The Wall'. Their first job was perhaps making coffee, buying Partners' fags etc., and coping with amorous telephonists, (I've got a nephew just like you; nice boy, strong legs, plays rugger...how old did you say you were...ooooh). But for real work, they were put in a darkened room, usually a small windowless cupboard with a single unshaded light bulb, and ordered to calculate, by hand, using duodecimals, a list of figures on a pile of paper about a foot high, which was constantly added to by immediate superiors who smoked Gold Leaf and wore mohair suits (40 Guineas...).
It went like this.
Year one - Lowest of the low, little self esteem, probably just kicking the 'Clearasil' years, usually ignored by older members of the firm, told to calculate millions of areas, cubes, lists, schedules, (without the use of a single cylindrical slide rule or anything mechanical or electric...), thought Luncheon Vouchers were better than salary, fancied Gloria in Accounts; and her mother.
Year two - Promotion to Worker-Up. (True Gals...)! This meant that he or she could actually do some writing as well, or copying at least. It had to be done correctly and checked. Once the processes had been carried out, there was proof reading as well, God how we lived then, it was magic!
Year three - More Working-Up and even being in charge of a 'job' and allowed to beat up all the other juniors like the year one guys, and steal their fags, sandwiches etc.
Year four - Promotion to Taker-Off. (Even truer Gals)! This was a skill which was earned by experience and a detailed knowledge of the Bible of QSing, "The Standard Method of Measurement". It entailed measuring quantities of building materials and labours from drawings prepared by Architects, who were an odd race that walked on water at the time. The Taker-Off would write all his numbers in lists on Bill Paper, (Not the bloke who lives at No 45, a pad of specially ruled paper, please keep up...)!
The Taker-Off was indeed secure for life. He or she would be among the first people ever to cultivate the 'Nerd Pack', (a row of coloured biros in the top jacket pocket), and these would be carefully laid out next to the pile of paper in readiness for the day's work. Pencils were frowned upon, but rulers were needed by the ultimate perfectionist.
One man had a folded Kleenex on which he would carefully wipe the ink which gathered round the Biro tip...)! A highlight of his work was a 'Colouring Friday', when he would colour up important parts of a building on the drawing, to define the detail more easily! Another chap would occasionally pop his head round the door, and say something inane like "I've just done a reduction estimate on Chase Farm, Heungh Heungh Heungh"; all in the voice like Bluebottle's in the Goons).
So that's it! This was the start of a career which actually veered away pretty quickly from the original course after all the excitement explained above, and which is probably why I never made a fortune (yet), but with the experience of all those rude procedures, telephonists...oooooh, small rooms (and shenanigans) in the basement, well, the world's your oyster, er, wasn't it...
Slide over Cylindrical Slide Rule, Floreat Electric Calculator...