Office mechanic's workshop in the 1950s/1960s

The craft of the office machine mechanic evolved at the same time as mechanization of office equipment. This small but highly specified craft experienced upheaval when electronic equipment became a success.

School for office machine mechanics in Bielefeld  

In Germany, the first typewriter mechanics were trained before World War I. After that, the number of mechanics grew considerably because office machines needed to be maintained regularly and repaired if necessary. In many cases, typewriters, calculating machines and accounting machines were in use for decades. This job required excellent mechanical know-how and was highly specialized. Most mechanics therefore concentrated on specific brands and types. Manufacturers trained mechanics on the machines at their factories. Journeymen could acquire the title of master craftsmen at the only German school for office machine mechanics in Bielefeld until 1990.

New challenges

In 1968, there were 7,700 office machine mechanics in Germany. Most companies were very small, with one-man or two-man workshops being very widespread. These companies' turnover made with office machine sales kept growing, amounting to 90% in the 1960s. A major change arrived at this time. Until then, a good mechanic also had to have very good knowledge of electrical circuits in order to repair electromechanical machines, but now the age of electronics began. New devices dominated the market after 1970 (photocopiers, computers, printers, fax machines etc.) and required completely new know-how. Finally, the job of office machine mechanic was replaced by that of office information electronics service engineer in 1988.

Typical machines and devices of the 1950s and 1960s can be seen in the exhibition. They all originate from an Aachen-based company that was founded in 1926 and closed in 1994. They convey an impression of the work situation in an office machine workshop even though a real-life workshop was undoubtedly not as small and tidy as the exhibit.