Office Equipment and Supplies

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Office Equipment and Supplies


the aggregate of equipment for mechanization and automation of administrative and engineering-technical work. It includes instruments, devices, and machines—from fountain pens and pencil sharpeners to dictating machines, conventional and automatic typewriters, copying and duplicating machines, and computers. The accelerated development and introduction of office machines are made necessary by the high rate of technical progress, the increase in the scale of social production, the growing complexity of production management, the increased volume of data being processed, and the need to limit the growing number of persons employed in administration. Until the mid-20th century the mechanization and automation of engineering and administrative work lagged significantly behind the general rate of development of production; in the last 100 years labor productivity in industry has increased by a factor of almost 15, whereas in administration it has only doubled.

The use of office equipment promotes greater productivity of administrative labor and management efficiency. With the advent of the scientific and technological revolution, during which improvement of the management system has become a key factor in national economic development, office equipment has become particularly important. With systematic use of office equipment, in which comprehensive organizational planning is decisive, the average rise in the productivity of administrative labor is 10–15 percent; for certain categories of employees it is 80–100 percent.

Administrative work is inseparably tied to data processing, and the main data carrier in administration is the document. Therefore, mechanization of the most common and labor-intensive processes—compilation, copying and duplication, processing, storage, and retrieval of documents—produces particularly tangible results. Extensive use is made of electric typewriters, automatic typewriters, and dictating machines to produce business documents. Equipment for copying documents includes a vast group of devices for making one to several dozen copies. Small-job printing equipment is used to produce hundreds to tens of thousands of copies of documents.

Mechanization and automation of data processing, storage, and retrieval are especially important in raising the labor productivity of administrative employees. Computer equipment, including analog and digital computers, punched-card machines, keypunch computers, and displays, is a powerful means of data processing that provides up-to-date, precise, and reliable management of complex systems. In many management systems, specialists need to retrieve necessary information, which takes 30–40 percent of their working time. Time spent on information retrieval can be reduced by ordinary flat, suspended, or revolving card files in combination with card-retrieval equipment (selectors and drums), mechanized card files, self-contained memory units, and computer-based information retrieval systems. The following example describes the effectiveness of such equipment: the simplest selector for retrieval of information on punched cards permits the scanning of not more than a few cards per second, whereas electronic machines retrieve information by scanning more than 3,000 documents per second. The rapid increase in the number of various kinds of printed, graphic, and handwritten documents, particularly business correspondence, technical documents, and informational materials, created the necessity of developing equipment and methods for reducing the volume of documents in storage. One such method is microfilming, or microphotocopying. Photographic, copying, and reading-copying devices and equipment for developing, subsequent processing, and storage of microfilm are used in the process of microfilming.

The largest part of drafting and design work is graphic preparation of drawings and compilation of design documents. To increase labor productivity, the work areas of drafting and design workers have not only the basic drawing instruments but also sets of various devices and tools that simplify and greatly accelerate the drawing of various conventional symbols, diagram elements, standard parts of designs, individual assemblies, and fasteners.

Individual-use devices that make the work of administrative employees easier are usually called supplies. This category includes pens and pencils, automatic and semiautomatic numbering devices, staplers, and hole punchers.

Integrated mechanization and automation of production management is impossible without effective traffic control. The work areas of dispatchers (operators) at the control consoles have modern communications and paging and intercom equipment, mnemonic diagrams, and closed-circuit television units to make control of production processes more effective.

A great deal of attention is being devoted to the problems of organizing administrative and engineering-technical labor in the USSR and abroad. New office equipment is continuously being developed and refined. The international exhibitions Inforga-65 and Interorgtekhnika-66 in Moscow were devoted to advances in this area. Cooperation and coordination of work in the member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance makes it possible to follow a uniform technical policy in the design and efficient use of office equipment.


Mekhanizatsiia inzhenerno-tekhnicheskogo i upravlencheskogo truda: Spravochnaia kniga. Edited by I. I. Kandaurov. Leningrad, 1973.
Alferov, A. V., I. S. Reznik, and V. G. Shorin. Orgatekhnika. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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