Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series in which the Aiken Standard delves into the history of an old photograph taken in Aiken County.
What is Throwback Thursday?
Throwback Thursday is a term that was born on social media sites, in which users post old photographs on Thursdays.
The photographs are usually identified by the inclusion of the hashtag #tbt.
On Thursdays, anyone can participate in the Throwback Thursday trend by posting a photo on social networking sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook to remember a past event.
Send in your local Throwback Thursday story ideas by emailing editorial@ aikenstandard.com.
Advances in technology now make even the desktop computer seem outdated, but local resident Wade Brodie said one of the most exciting days he can recall was Nov. 14, 1969, when he watched a Burrough computer get lifted to the second-floor window of Farmers and Merchants Bank.
At the time, Brodie was the vice president of the bank, which was located in downtown Aiken on the corner of Laurens Street and Park Avenue.
That day, he had a clear view of the event that would eventually change Aiken's banking industry.
“Back then, Burrough had the top-of-the-line computers,” Brodie explained. “And their equipment was so large, we couldn't get it up the steps. So we had to take out a window pane and get a crane and get it lifted to the second floor.”
While the computer delivery was a monumental event, Brodie said the bigger impact came after the excitement faded and the crowd left the scene.
He said Farmers and Merchants was the first bank in Aiken to get a computer, and was also the first bank to go online with their branches.
Before computer technology, he said, all of the data, accounts and records had to be written and stored.
“All of that information had to be transferred over to the computer,” Brodie said. “We had a two-track system in place to make sure everything came back as it should and that we didn't lose any money.”
Once the transfers were made, Brodie said the two biggest conveniences were being able to operate the bank with less employees and traffic and being able to provide better customer service.
One example he used is how tellers used to keep a cash book for deposits. Once a deposit was made, customers had to initial the deposit, and then it was hand-posted to ledgers. Brodie said they went from hand posting deposits to using magnetic strips that added or subtracted accounts for the tellers.
Another example he used is how tellers went from looking at each check individually to being able to process checks using technology.
“Banks used to have to look at checks coming through to various accounts and read the signatures on each check,” he explained. “With computers, the process became quicker, and things are read magnetically.”
Brodie worked at Farmers and Merchants Bank from 1960 to 1986 – a span of 26 years. After leaving, he organized Aiken County National Bank in 1987 and stayed in the business for a number of years. Still, he has never forgotten that historic day in downtown Aiken and how much easier banking became after the computer was brought into the business.
He added, “A lot of times, changes can create problems. But it didn't create any. Everybody was happy with it, and it was an exciting time and a blessing for me to be a part of it.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.
Staff photo by Derrek Asberry The Farmers and Merchants Bank building sits on the corner of Laurens Street and Park Avenue.×
Staff photo by Derrek Asberry Local resident Wade Brodie was vice president of Farmers and Merchants Bank when the bank received its first computer. Here, Brodie points to the window in which the computer was lifted through in 1969.×