George Walford: The End of Work (6)

IN IC18 we reported Ray Hammond’s comment that the whole of the typesetting industry was being eliminated by the computer in half a decade. Now another industry – admittedly a smaller one – is also about to disappear. For something like a thousand years copyists have produced the musical scores needed by performers, but now Richard Vendome, of Oxford’s music faculty, has written a computer programme which works more accurately and ten times more rapidly than the best of copyists, producing music ready to print, with no need for musical typesetting or engraving. Work that has been costing tens of pounds can now be produced (after the computer-system has been paid for) for a few pence. The programme is expected to displace not only the copyists who work for orchestras but also the “armies” of them employed by advertising firms to transcribe jingles for recording. (Sunday Times, 2 June 85)

One giant step toward the end of work would be the complete automation of production. The wholly automatic factory, long spoken of, has now arrived, at least as a demonstration model. Occupying 200 square metres it was built by Digital Equipment and put on display at the Computers in Manufacturing Exhibition. (Sunday Times 23 June 85).

from Ideological Commentary 19, July 1985.