Here in the land of 10,000 federal forms and Bic ballpoints marked PROPERTY US GOVERNMENT, an office opened yesterday that offers a Tom Swift solution to the problem of Paper Blight.
To wit: The Paperless Office, which is exactly that.Forget about pencils and scratch pads, and get tha cursor moving across your video display terminal (VDT.) Those three two-inch-thick loose-leafs contain the Yellow Pages for the entire U.S. on Microfiche. Stick that incoming correspondence into the scanner. And start keyboarding the verbal reports that were tape-recorded last night.
If all this sounds as if the 21st century has arrived too early, hang onto your floppy disc. The transformation, paperless promoters say, is as inevitable as Social Security numbers becoming checking account and driver's license identifers.
"The average office," says Paperless Office founder Larry Stockett, "contains more information than it can possibly store or use efficiently. If you filled this building (one of the Watergate units) with filing cabinets, 500,000 square feet of them, I could still store more information in one nine-by-seven-by-three-foot fiche file."
Among the assets of the Paperless office:
Scanners which can read typed sletters and store them on magnetic tape or discs.
High-speed fiche duplicators - in effect, photocopy machines of the future - which can copy mcirofiche (10 cent, 4x5-inch, high density sheets of film each holding 280 pages of information) at a rate of 400 pieces a minute.
The Microx Camera, which allows one or more pages of already microfiched information to be voided or even erased on a single sheet of film without affecting the other 279 pages.
Computer-output microfiche recorders which, in 10 seconds, transfer 280 pages of tape-stored information onto a piece of microfiche.
A $139 attache case outfit with viewer, which allows the weary executive to carry microfiche home and project information on a curved secreen built into its cover.
"Why carry magazines home when you can have a whole issue on one sheet," asks Stockett, who proceeds to display a revealing page of Playboy on the Portable unit.
Beyond the office manager, who would be able to take more work home than ever before, The Paperless Office could have some impact on the pillars of the American economy: secretaries.
"They may not be forced into the same drudgery," says Stockett. "There'll still be lots of keyboard work, but not quite so many repetitive, boring tasks. No more typing the same letters 50 times."
Stockett, 32, began playing with computers while a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he worked on developing an automated library. He spent several years with other management consulting firms until creating his own, Micronet, here in 1977. The Paperless Office was designed to train personnel and for demonstration to business and government administrators.
"Obviously," says Stockett, "the idea of a paperless enviroment was ideally suited to be introduced in Washington." But he predicts a "big impact" on business, too: "In the past decade, factory output was up 84 percent, but office effiency only rose .4 percent."
So far, Stockett says that 17 corporations have used his firm, at an averagefee of $5,000 each. The largest was AT&T, which sent 30 people to The Paperless Office for a week. The fee: $225 per person per day.
Stockett is attempting to integrate the concept totally into his personal lifestyle: His business cards, created in the office, are generated on microfiche. And he has a computer terminal in his home, which he can connect via telephone with the office information bank.
"As far as I know," he says, "this is the first office in the world totally without paper."
Excepty for the money. CAPTION: Picture 1, Screens replace typewriters in all-electronic office, by Gerald Martineau; Picture 2, Machine displays microfiche card of "Yellow Pages", By Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post