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Johnson started out playing computer games on an Apple II, but then "those got shoved in the file cabinet." He began computerizing all his farm records, which was not easy. "We could keep track of the hogs we sold in dollars, but we couldn't keep rack of them by pounds and numbers at the same time." He started shopping around and finally acquired a $12,000 combination at a shop in Lafayette, Ind.: a microcomputer from California Comput er Systems, a video screen from Ampex, a Diablo word printer and an array of agricultural programs.
Johnson's computer now knows the yields on 35 test plots of corn, the breeding records of his 300 sows, how much feed his hogs have eaten (2,787,260 Ibs.) and at what cost ($166,047.73). "This way, you can charge your hogs the cost of the feed when you sell them and figure out if you're making any money," says Johnson. "We never had this kind of information before. It would have taken too long to calculate. But we knew we needed it."
Just as the computer is changing the way work is done in home offices, so it is revolutionizing the office. Routine tasks like managing payrolls and checking inventories have long since been turned over to computers, but now the typewriter is giving way to the word processor, and every office thus becomes part of a network. This change has barely begun; about 10% of the typewriters in the 500 largest industrial corporations have so far been replaced. But the economic imperatives are inescapable. All told, office professionals could save about 15% of their time if they used the technology now available, says a study by Booz, Allen & Hamilton, and that technology is constantly improving. In one survey of corporations, 55% said they were planning to acquire the latest equipment. This technology involves not just word processors but computerized electronic message systems that could eventually make paper obsolete, and wall-size, two-way TV teleconference screens that will obviate traveling to meetings The standard home computer is sold only to somebody who wants one, but the same machine can seem menacing when it appears in an office. Secretaries are often suspicious of new equipment, particularly if it appears to threaten their jobs, and so are executives. Some senior officials resist using a keyboard on the ground that such work is demeaning. Two executives in a large firm reportedly refuse to read any computer printout until their secretaries have retyped it into the form of a standard memo. "The biggest problem in introducing computers into an office is management itself," says Ted Stout of National Systems Inc., an office design firm in Atlanta. "They don't understand it, and they are scared to death of it."
But there is an opposite fear that drives anxious executives toward the machines: the worry that younger and more sophisticated rivals will push ahead of them. "All you have to do," says Alexander Horniman, an industrial psychologist at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, "is walk down the hall and see people using the computer and imagine they have access to all sorts of information you don't." Argues Harold Todd, executive vice president at First Atlanta Bank: "Managers who do not have the ability to use a terminal within three