It's the late 1980s, and this IT pilot fish has just started work at a record label, supporting the ordering and manufacturing process.

"I worked directly with the clerk in charge of promotions," says fish. "She handled the biweekly offering letter to customers, and she had issues with the process."

The process is pretty simple: The clerk fills out a two-column tabular sheet that specifies records by catalog number, and the associated number of records to be manufactured. This sheet is keypunched at the data center. Punch cards are sent back to her for review. Then the cards are sent to the plant for processing.

But the clerk complains to fish that the data-center punch cards don't have a human-readable version of the data on them. She has to go to Applications and duplicate the cards so she can read them. And that eats up too much time on her short deadlines.

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