Throwback Thursday: Can you compute?

In the early 80s, Independent dealers turned to in-house computing.

The Nov. 22, 1982, issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported on the results of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association survey of more than 150 dealers.

The number one use by lumberyards of in-house computers in 1982 was accounts receivable, measuring 56%. That compared to 20% of respondents who handled AR with bookkeeping machines. And while 49% used a computer to handle billing, one third still prepared invoices by hand.

The article reports: “While the NLBMDA survey indicates that in-house computers are becoming increasingly prevalent, among independent dealers, the fact remains that more than half of the dealers surveyed have yet to incorporate computers in the day-to-day operations, with the exception of accounts receivable operations.”

The survey identified price as the leading cause of resistance to lumberyard computerization.

Keep in mind: these green-screen machines didn’t have the benefit of the mouse or graphic user interface, features which didn’t become popular until Apple’s new Macintosh computer was introduced in 1984.

Near the end of the story, the author presciently hinted at the dangers of loose controls on data: “Some dealers fear information that could be lost or manipulated with a potentially disastrous effect on business.”

# # #

Have you seen home improvement history? Tell us at

Login or Register to post a comment.