We have a lot to thank Steve Jobs & Co for……….

The basis of this blog has originated from a networking breakfast meeting I attended recently. I had a few precious moments spare in between the last of the spicy pork sausage and the morning’s nominated speaker so I checked my email. The gentlemen sitting next to me leaned over and said, “What would we do without them, eh?”, referring to my iPhone.

After a little chuckle and a swig of coffee, we then reminisced about the good old days and it transpired that my esteemed companion had entered the property industry at the same time as me, as a trainee. It turned out we both suffered the fate of false crocodile loafers, double breasted box suits and paisley ties.

And it got me thinking what things were like then compared to now.

I began working for a small firm of chartered surveyors, in my first ever “office environment”. In 1986, the most advanced piece of equipment the company possessed was a sole fax machine, shared between four offices. The telephone system wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Miss Marple episode; there was even a fifteen-extension switchboard, and each handset was dial operated. You couldn’t put any caller on hold; you had to put your hand over the receiver and hope for the best.

Our sales details weren’t colour photocopied; oh no, that was WAY too expensive – and for all of those that can remember, we had a gestetner machine (go on, google it) to run off hundreds of foolscap size “property lists” – not even separate particulars for each instruction.

We had no external photos of properties. My boss at the time (sadly departed now) came in one day saying “Right, its time to bring it up a level…” and gleefully presented me with a brand-new BLACK & WHITE POLAROID camera (just purchased from Argos). It was another year before we got colour cartridges.

And we didn’t have secretaries; we had typists. Who could shorthand (bit like Arabic) and copy type just about anybody’s spider-like handwritten notes. No Wi-Fi enabled dictation machine in sight. There were no set templates for standard letters; each one was individually drafted and sent by first class post that evening. If you forgot, the boss would be most upset!

My first email? 1997. Twenty minutes of whirring, screeching, and buzzing before it finally sent…..and failed.

Then came the Apple Macs. And 3.5” floppy discs. Word-processing replaced the golf-ball typewriter (much to the dismay of a few) and we no longer needed to keep vast sections of the back office available for filing & filing boxes.

Then we had mobility. Mobile phones with suitcase sized batteries on wheels costing forty-five pence a call. Voicemail…sort of. Texting? No chance. My first real handheld mobile phone– an NEC P3 – was just short of a miracle for me but my boss was not so sure. He couldn’t understand the need to be “mobile”.

Zoom forward (pardon the pun) to now. Literally everything I’ve ever experienced in thirty-six years of the working environment, from applicant books to CRM software, polaroid to jpeg, first class post to social media posts, office meetings to video calls – it’s all here, in this 14cm x 7cm glass and plastic box that sits in the palm of my hand.

What can we look forward to in the next 36 years?

Russell Hawkes

Senior Auction Appraiser