Vintage 1960s IRS video introduces anxious Americans to wonder of “computers”

A simply wonderful vintage video from the Internal Revenue Service in the early ’60s, showing the magic of new “computers” the IRS is using to process tax returns.



Apparently, when the IRS began using computers in 1961, people were pretty freaked about it.  More from NetworkWorld:

From today’s National Archives blog on the topic: “When the IRS began using computers in 1961, many people were horrified. An article in Harper’s Magazine titled, “The Martinsburg Monster: A True Horror Story for Taxpayers,” described how computers limited the possibilities for refunds. A tax expert then envisioned a scenario in which erroneous notices forced people to overpay, or $100 million dollars in unwarranted refund checks were issued.

The shift towards computer technology also made Internal Revenue Commissioner, Mortimer Caplin, a well-known and controversial figure. One reporter accused Caplin of “bringing Big Brother into everyone’s life in the form of the Martinsburg Monster.” In February 1963, Caplin was the cover story of Time magazine, in which he supported the changes made under his administration. Controversy surrounding the IRS computers was not limited to water cooler conversations, it was reflected in the mass media.”

The video is a riot. The people, the clothing, the hairdos.

Look at this data entry device.


And this lady. The glasses!


And this guy’s suit on the left is far cooler in the video – it’s that cool skinny 1950s look.


 And the hair – it’s Annette!


Naturally, the women are busy typing…


…While the men are the “executives.”irs-men

I did find it interesting, however, that there was a black woman among the white women doing data entry – for 1953, at least that job was integrated, and the IRS had no problem showing that it was.

It’s a fun video.


“This is the real heart of the Martinsburg monster.”

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