The adoption of large-scale computers by the British retail banks in the 1960s required a first-time dislocation of customer accounting from its confines in the branches—where it had been dealt with by paper-based and mechanized information systems—to a new collective space: the bank computer center. While historians have rightly stressed the continuities between centralized office work, punch-card tabulation, and computerization, the shift from decentralized to centralized information work by means of a computer has received little attention. In this article I examine the case of Ferranti and Martins Bank and employ elements of Anthony Giddens's structuration theory to highlight the difficulties of transposing old information practices directly onto new computerized information work.


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