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Becton Dickinson: 1954

Becton Dickinson: 1954

March 23, 1954. "Becton Dickinson Co., Rutherford, New Jersey. Office." Large-format acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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Not Adding Machines

The two machines close together on the bookcase to the right are embossing machines for checks. The amount would be set with the buttons, the blank check inserted in the slot at the bottom, the lever pulled, and the value of the check would be embossed into the paper. This would prevent any changes. A few places still use this technique. As SouthBendModel34 says, they probably weighed quite a lot.

The blinds!

Venetian blinds, and not those cheap things you see now. Those are real aluminum, probably with fabric holding them together. My grandfather used to install those in the 60's and they were heavy, and I mean they would take a window out if you rammed a set into the glass. Remember having those in my elementary school, it was close to the beach, so no AC, and you could hear the wind blow thru them.

The ceiling intrigues me. Looks like a fake ceiling of plastic with hidden lighting maybe? Those dividers are way cool too.

The Desktops are Made of Linoleum

My first desk at my first job after graduating from college had one of these molded linoleum tops with rounded edges.

There were two types of these desks in my office: One type had the full-molded one piece linoleum top as shown. The second type had stainless-steel corner pieces which were about 1/8 of a sphere, that is 90 degrees worth on all four axes. This second type apparently did not require specially molded linoleum, the wrap-around top being a flat sheet with notched corners.

Both types looked "dated" in the late 1970's, but were very practical. The rounded-edge linoleum was a good writing surface and comfortable to sit against. (This was just before the desktop computer era - we wrote out everything and then handed it in for typing or keypunching.)

The adding machines in this photo are interesting. There are two atop the bookcase to the right; they are apparently stored there because they are too close together to be used simultaneously. They must have been moved to the desks on an as-needed basis. They probably weight 30 to 40 lbs.!

[I suspect these desks had slightly padded tops. My dad had one in his office and it was eventually covered with dozens of shallow indentations from telephones, adding machines, etc. - Dave]

Back to the Future

Not too far a leap to the "new" Becton Dickinson offices built in 1992.

Lunch Break

There's no one at their desks because the clocks on the wall says it's 12:15.

Can anyone identify the keyboard looking device on the desk behind the safe? They're using a different chair at that station.

The empty desks look like they already have a specific work use in mind as each has different equipment on them.


Looks like the austere stage set for "Dragnet." "Just the facts, ma'am."

Movie set

"Metropolis II: The Service Sector Ascendant"

Lucky - individual desks!

I now sit with my coworkers on one side of a dual row of tables. My fellow workers sit on the other side. Think "Hogwarts dining hall" and you wouldn't be far off.
No carpet means you hear everything that goes on in the area.
Apparently, it's the Latest Thing in Open Offices.


The smooth desk tops with the rounded corners are beautiful enough to make me weep.

How to Succeed

Is this the scene after the staff has sung "Coffee Break" from "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying?"

Which desk is Buddy Boy's?

C.C. Baxter - C. for Calvin, C. for Clifford - but most people call me Bud.

Room to grow, or workforce reduction?

The distant end of the room appears to be lived in; the near end doesn't show much evidence of the human touch.

[Gottscho-Schleisner's commissions generally documented new construction. - Dave]

Still in business!

Still going strong as a manufacturer of medical equipment.

Uniformity Personified

The telephones all appear to be Western Electric Model 302's, which were made from the late 1930s until 1954. The housing was metal until WWII, then switched to thermoplastic (think Bakelite). These are probably black plastic.

Love the phones

Imagine, you could actually hear the voice on the other end of the line. I don't think the expression "You're breaking up" had been invented.

The rest of the environment, not so much.

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