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Mining Review 2/5: Push Button Pay (1949)


Main image of Mining Review 2/5: Push Button Pay (1949)
Mining Review 2nd Year No. 5
Push Button Pay
January 1949
35mm, black and white, 2 mins
DirectorMichael Orrom
Production CompanyData Film Productions
ProducerDonald Alexander
CameraCharles Smith

Mechanised accounting in the cashier's office in Area 6, East Midlands.

Show full synopsis

A fascinating look at what was then the last word in high-tech payroll processing, Push Button Pay depicts the process whereby the cards maintained by the colliery are converted into pay packets.

Given that this involves details concerning thousands of miners, this process is highly automated, using sophisticated - albeit still mechanical - technology. The relevant colliery, grade and shift details are recorded on punch-cards via holes. These are then fed into a tabulating machine, which physically sorts them into packs according to collieries and pay grades ("Handy for a game of brag!", jokes the narrator, who also seems convinced that "the feminine touch to the machines" is an essential ingredient in converting the data into wages and bonuses).

The item concludes with the information that this equipment is also used to record other data, such as the overall output, its quality, weight and destination. And for those who are wondering how easy it might be for the women in the cash office to pocket an unofficial bonus, the narrator concludes by stressing that it also records how much of the pay doesn't go into the pay packet.

While still on the subject of accounting, the NCB's records show that the production budget was £150, 3 shillings and one penny. The item was filmed in late November 1948, with the commentary recorded on 6 December.

Michael Brooke

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