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F. Nordy Hoffman: Sergeant at Arms

Photograph of Frank "Nordy" Hoffmann

“…they were fearful that it was going to take their job.”

In his interview with Senate historian Donald Ritchie, Hoffman describes the initial reactions of Senate staffers when the first computers were purchased for senators’ offices in the 1970s.

HOFFMAN: Of course, the other problem that we had at that time was the fact that we were new in the computer field. Most of the Senators, and most of the staff, not all of the staff but a lot of the staff, had a feeling that the computers were going to replace the people who were working in the offices. Well, that was never what was intended. It was just to be an aid to help them do a better job and do it quicker. It took a long time to get this across. I remember I went around personally to all the one hundred senators' offices. I walked in and asked them to show me where their computer was. I would say ninety percent of the people that took me back there, I had to climb over boxes to get where it was. It was hidden. They weren't using it. I had people in my own office who didn't want to use it, because they were fearful that it was going to take their job.

It took us, oh, I guess a year and a half to get people accustomed to what we wanted to try to do with the computers. I thought it was bringing us into the twentieth century, a little late, but nevertheless better late than never. I appointed someone who did nothing but bring these people up to date with computers. Before we got through, the computers were being used as they were supposed to be used, and the taxpayers money was not wasted.