Sometime in the early 1980s some bright spark from the Guv at Netley – most likely from the “log cabin” – came up with the idea of getting rid of copyholders, probably to save money.
The idea was for the proofreader to read from hard copy into a microphone attached to a dictaphone (which contained a blank cassette tape), then play the tape back, while marking any alterations he found on the proof – stopping the tape, if necessary, to make the alteration(s).
I don’t know how this would save money, because the proofreader would be doing two jobs – his and the copyholder’s – and the proofreader was paid more than the copyholder!
Plus, the time to complete that task would take longer than the normal team working together.
I worked with Myles Conlon, the greatest copyholder ever (as I have written about in the “Myles Conlon and Me” article), who was none too keen on losing his job to some machine.
His reaction on being told about the new soon-to-be-introduced proofreading system was, in true Myles fashion, “You can stick the dictaphone up yourarse!” and stormed off – probably to get a coffee and have a fag!
Needless to say, the bright spark saw the error of his ways and the dictaphone idea was put to rest.