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THINK: 1956

1956. "IBM Manufacturing and Administrative Center, Rochester, Minn. Eero Saarinen, architect." Kodachrome by Balthazar Korab. View full size.

1956. "IBM Manufacturing and Administrative Center, Rochester, Minn. Eero Saarinen, architect." Kodachrome by Balthazar Korab. View full size.


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Those are Morris Fountain Pen sets. These were the later successors of the Morriset Pen-Ink-Unit dip pen sets which were so very common during the 40's.

These were made by the Bert M. Morris Co. in Los Angeles. They were very common in government offices. I have one of the earlier Morriset Pen-Ink-Units with the US House of Representatives seal on the top in dark green.

Here's one like the black ones in the picture, but in red.

Pru, too

The Prudential Insurance Company's headquarters building in Newark, NJ was designed the same year as this IBM building; and when I worked there in 1978, the furnishings, partitions and overall layout were absolutely identical to this photo. Policyholders should have appreciated that uber-frugality.

Remember this well

I worked for a telco in Australia in the '70s and '80s and this office scheme would fit right in. With the one exception of the vinyl floor, ours had the industrial-grade carpet tiles.

Even the filing cabinets in the last days before computerisation.

I feel so old.

Somewhere in those cubicles...

is a man running amok, clad only in yellow post-it notes.


A true interior color from the 1950s and 1960s. I am waiting for its return!

Alternate name

We refer to ours as "Dilbertville"

THINK v2.0

An illustration in an issue of Astounding Science Fiction circa 1958 had exactly that sign on the wall of an alien's office, except that it read "NERB".

I Remember It Well

I worked for RCA in Camden, NJ and the layout for IT was virtually identical. Probably all gray Steelcase furniture in the cubes. No carpet on the floor for the masses. Carpet was reserved for the executive offices. We called that area "rug row". This was not quite the "gopher farm" of today; at least these walls had some height to them. Take away the glass panels and you have today's cubes.

THIMK first

My brother seems to have been an early adopter of the ironic THINK/THIMK gag, going by this 1955 shot I posted five years back.


Looks like the photographer captured his own image (along with his tripod); it appears in the glass partition in the center of the photo.

He may have been standing with his back to the window as I also see the images of some cars in the parking lot reflected with him.

He may have taken this early (the clock shows "7") in the morning before everyone showed up for work.

57 years later, here in 2013, we still use (in my workplace, anyway) markings on the columns (aisles and rows) to make it easy to locate someone's cubicle in a large-scale Data Center environment.

Remove the pens & ashtrays

Put a monitor and keyboard on the desk, and it's 2013.

Love those reflections

Look beyond the Think sign and orange seats straight into the cubicle glass partition and I am almost sure that, that is a reflection of the photographer using a tripod. Unexpected reflections can be fun!

Cubicle City

Also known as a "Gopher Farm". Every time something happens all the gophers pop their heads above the partitions to see what's going on.

Could this be

Don Draper's office?

Trite but true

As his work has been copied everywhere, it is hard to remember that Saarinen was once considered to have something new and desirable to contribute to architecture, particularly with respect to interiors. These could be the offices of almost any government or private-sector "people warehouse" thrown up in the last 40 years. Indeed, if Henry Miller were writing today, I suspect that this is how he would envision the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company. Frank Lloyd Wright did "open" offices much earlier and much better.

I always thought it was


Human Resources

It looks like they have a two-pack-a-day receptionist.



[Or thmoke. - Dave]

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