Vintage Business #17: Office '86

The July 1986 issue of a color computing magazine called Rainbow offers some dynamite photographs of life in a publishing company's office space.   The fashions, the computers, the decor -- it's an 80s wonder to behold.

It doesn't really matter what office space this is; it's enough just to gaze upon it. But for those interested, this is the Falsoft publishing building.  The business started small in 1981 as a local Kentucky color computing rag printed on a dot matrix printer.  The magazine Rainbow grew rapidly over the next few years, and branched into PCM magazine "The Personal Computing Magazine for Tandy Users", and VCR "The Home Video Monthly magazine".

Anyway, here's a look inside where the magic happened...

Now that's what I call a board room.  The white leather chairs are classy, but even better are the ample supply of ashtrays.

The board room is fine, but we all know the real work gets done right here at the secretary's desk.  Note that, although this is the office of a computing magazine, typewriters are still alive and well.

"Can you please leave me be.  I'm trying to get some work done."

The lady in the striped sweater is not even trying to hide the fact that she's eavesdropping on the gossip.

The relationship began in the reception area, looking over Glenda's draft.... and it just sort of went from there.

Falsoft Publishing was pretty progressive in its dress code.  If a dude wanted to wear pumps, he could wear pumps.

Hey, wait.  Are those the same white shoes?

Clearly, white pumps were the "in" footwear at Falsoft.

"I'm sorry Mrs. Willoughby.  We're going to have to let you go."

Sweet Nike high tops.

Stare in awe upon the glory of Super VGA monitors.  The future is now!


  1. I got into the professional workforce in 1987, one year after this feature, and I am still amazed at the changes to the professional workplace in less than 30 years.

    In 1987, smoking in someone else's office was considered rude, but people smoked in their own offices all the time. (No joke, as I pulled up to the building on my first day in the adult working world, there was a pregnant woman standing out front, smoking a cigarette.)

    There was only the very beginning of voicemail systems, so a receptionist still took all your messages. (It took six months before someone actually left me one.) There was no e-mail, so all written communication with clients was via FAX or letter. Also, with no e-mail, you had to print out memos and put them in co-workers interoffice mailboxes just to plan a meeting. We don't even HAVE individual mailboxes at the office anymore...

  2. Before the rise of the Human Resources Nazi and government-mandated piss testing. It's largely overlooked by TV show writers who live in fear of The Beast.

  3. Different companies moved at paces. Where I worked in 1986, smoking inside was only allowed in break rooms which were outfitted with enormous smoke-eater machines.

    I am amazed by the photo of the guy with the Nikes. He is surrounded by electronic machines. There's a television, a computer monitor, what I think is a microfiche machine, a typewriter, some sort of calculator in the background?, and a telephone hanging on the wall.

    1. And today I am surrounded by my smart-phone.

  4. I want those ashtrays! Those brown glass ones had a substantial heft to them--you could throw one against a wall and it wouldn't break (don't ask).
    Also, the abundance of floppy disk caddies (including a few of the 8" variety) brings back memories.
    Great post!

    1. So many ashtrays...all clean by the way. But not a cigarette in sight in any of the photos.

  5. DiscoDollyDebAugust 30, 2015

    This seems very informal for the eighties. I started in the corporate world in 1980. Women who hoped to advance had to wear power suits (preferably red, with boxy shoulders) and frilly-fronted white blouses; hair, heels, and hose completed the ensemble. Even the "gals in the typing pool" (pretty much an anachronism even then) were expected to be appropriately attired. If you didn't smoke and everyone else around you did, too bad; you had to (literally) suck it up. Now I work a "mommy track" job and wear khakis, polo shirts, and flat shoes. I don't miss the corporate eighties at all!

  6. I thought it was a guy. If you hadn't pointed out the white pumps I would have gone on thinking it was just a very casually dressed gentleman.

  7. Another great feature, can't believe I came here before clicking on Mini-Skirt Monday, glad I did though. White pumps ahoy! I do recall when white heels were "happening", though far from the professional workforce my mom had piles of Cosmo and fashion magazines (my dad had his pile of "fashion" magazines as well, as you can image). Both highlighted the trend in nice detail.

    Can't recall pumps being "in" with casually dressed gentlemen but who knows what Bruce Jenner was into at the time.

  8. I just saw some of those plastic trays being taken to the trash recently where I work. People don't believe when I tell them I had to take a typing test for the job I still have.

  9. I don't see many differences of the office between today and the past. Except there is modern equipment now.
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