In the 1950s, ŠKODA AUTO had a special department where data was processed on punched labels. Mostly women worked there, including Alena Košťálová, Eva Bělíková and Eva Stanislavová.
“It was a very special job, as we were the only ones in the whole republic to perform this work. We received a reward for each processed piece, like a punched label”, Eva Stanislavová, who started working here in September 1954, remembers the machine-calculation station. According to her, it was necessary to work eagerly. Actually, each punched label was evaluated a little differently, depending on the complexity of the data entered.
The women’s team in the machine-calculation station. Aritma punching machines in the foreground. (1978)
Many different data were entered on the punch cards. “Our main task was to process data for calculating the salaries of employees, but on the whole, we performed a total of 126 different types of data acquisition and processing in the department”, according to Eva Bělíková, who joined the machine-calculation station in November 1954.
Processing wages demanded great responsibility was very time-consuming: “For us, this meant spending three 16-hour shifts in a row at work and processing all payslips into punched labels so that the pay-out for each employee could be calculated on time”, explains Alena Košťálová, the youngest of the three, adding that punched labels were also used to process, for example, invoices and other accounting documents, stocks, press occupancy and other data. “When a rally took place, some colleagues spent a few days at work continuously processing, for example, the results of a special rally speed competition on punching machines so that the racers would have them available as quickly as possible”, adds Košťálová.
The data were entered on the punched labels according to a specific key, and each type of activity had a particular structure. At first, the labels were manually created on Powerz machines, where the positions of the holes were entered and the label was then “manually” stamped out. The only thing left to do was to “programme” the Aritma automated puncher.
“Data processing required maximum attention as the inputs differed significantly. Each accountant had a slightly different system, and we had to find the proper numbers and put them where they belonged”, says Eva Bělíková.
This was the way the carmaker worked until the advent of personal computers. “We then switched to storing data on floppy disks, instead of punching machines, becoming data acquisition operators”, said Alena Košťálová about the development. “When PCs spread throughout the company, individual departments started processing the data themselves. Gradually, we scattered all over the company”, she added. “Out of about 30 of us, only seven remained in the department itself, and in 1994, our department was closed down for good,” Eva Bělíková describes the end of the specialised workplace.
Both Evas retired in 1994, but their younger colleague, Alena Košťálová, is still working at the car factory. She started in the archive, then worked as an external employee processing mail and since 2003 has been doing this activity internally, currently as a clerk for data boxes and external shipments.