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Possible Use of Computers and Data Processing Equipment
by International Non-governmental Organizations


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Revised version of a note presented to a meeting (Brussels, 1968) of the Federation of International Associations Established in Belgium (Brussels, 1968); the present English version is extracted from a detailed report in 1968 on the data processing problems of the Union of International Associations at that time (Version française)

The report is divided into five sections:

a) precedents in the use of computer techniques by non-profit organizations b) note on typesetting by computer c) note on research and storage of information by NGOs d) note on use of a service bureau e) use of computers by NGOs

Precedents in the use of computer techniques by non-profit organizations

No references could befound to the use of computers by international non-profit non-governmental organizations.A computer has been installed byat least two intergovernmental organizations, mainly to keep track ofdocument production in their fields. The two organizations are the Pood and Agriculture Organization 'of the United Nations in Rome (see FAO and Euratom in Mons, Belgium. These organizations operate on a scalewhich makes comparison relatively useless in examining the problems of theUIA.

Three recent references were found to the use of computers by national non-profit organizations. The U.S.A. AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department Data Center offers computer services to member unions. The computer has been used for gathering and sorting information on labour contracts,analysing companies-and mergers to provide datafor negotiations, as well as processing of membership and subscription lists. Individual unions in the U.S.A. are also reported to be making independent use of computers, including the communications workers, the United Auto Workers, the letter carriers, railroad trainmen, carpenters, typographical workers. For example, the U.S.A. national trade union called the International Association of Machinists is reported to have installed a $ 1.5 millioncomputer in 1952 and has increasingly been able to upgrade the effectiveness of its union operations by adapting the computer to more difficult tasks. Prior to installation of the computer, union membership lists were 18 months in arrears. With a total of 950,000 members and what amounted to 100 percent annual turnover, it was then impossible to maintain effective contact through the headquarters office. Currently, 80,000 monthly changes in membership are processed within two days of receipt of the information, which enables the union to maintain contact 'by issuing a weekly newsletter. (see Adams, Alan, Ml)

The article, although it demonstratesthat computers have been,used, effect- ively for membership societies does not illustrate whether computer ser- vices could be adapted to the UIA scale of operations.

The second reference was to a U.S.A trade association called the Refrigertion Service Engineers Society. This organization with a membership of 23,000,monthly journal mailing, subscriptionlist maintenance, statistics (training courseattendance, insurance, etc.), reports that it decided to lease classical data processing equipment (tabulator, cardpunch, sorter, collator). The decision was made to lease the equipment rather than use a service bureau because although the actual coat of service bureau operations was somewhat less than leasing, it was considered that for long. range requirements, the cost of increased use of. the service bureau would, then far outweigh the possibleinitial savings. A study of personnel in- volved with the new system revealedthat there would not be as much reduction using the service bureau as there would in using leased equipment. After one year of operation the conclusion is that the equipment does not necessarily reduce costs. The labour costs plus the lease and operating costs are approximately equal to the former total labour costs. (see Stafford,Willis, M15)

Note on typesetting by computer

The bulk of commercial printing work depends on typesetting, that is the arrangement of type characters from which the final printed version is produced directly by impression (letterpress), or indirectly by photo-lithography. The bulk of typesetting is done mechanically by an operator at a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter. The depression of a key initiates a process which results in the production of a piece of metal type. Although machines which produce the type directly on the operationof the keyboard are used (especially by news- papers), it is more usual to separate, the keyboard from the type casting machine -- the means of communication being punched paper tape.

More recently photocomposing machines have been introduced which assemble the characters on film for reproduction by photography. Although these offer the promise of increased speed of composition, the keyboard ope- ationis broadly similar to that for hot metal composition. 'A printed page is expected to consist of justified lines, that is lines of equal length to give a straight margin at the right and the left. In normal typesetting the decisionwhere to break the line, and if hyphenation is unavoidable, the word, is made by the keyboard oper- ator. This is a skilled, time-consuming job, and requires a thorough understanding of typography and house style. An operator's time is therefore a significant factor in publication costs. One of the things the computer can do is to relieve the keyboard operator of the need to make these decisions, and hence speed up his work and increase productivity. All the hyphenating and justifying is done for him. Two other main advantages stem from computer composition. Where the printed matteris to be in the form of tabulated information, such as bibliographies, directories or dalendars,which may have to be brought up to data at frequent intervals, the preparation of the copy can be closely linked with the computer. Insertions and additions can be easily made for each successive edition of the publication.

The remaining point is that computer composition makes possible thestorage of texts on magnetic tape. Complete publications can be stored in compact form, without the inconvenience, wear, and cost of keeping type standing from edition toedition. The texts can be run through. the computer at any time to produce the necessary instructions for the copy to be set in type of a different size, style, orformat, withoutthe texts having to be reset manually on the keyboard.

An additional advantage in the production of indexes to bibliographics, directories or calendars, is that the storedtext can be sorted by computer and then printed ina different order. A two-part directory of representatives of organizations and of organizations with their re- presentatives, can be produced by preparing only the more complex half of the text manually. This is then sorted and edited to produce the other part (see Exhibit 20). In some cases it is possible for the com-puter to examine individual entries, such as bibliographical references, and pick out the words to be included in the index.

Typical system and procedure

Exhibit 21 is an outline flowchart illustrating a multi-pass system withcorrection but without page make-up facilities. The passes are:

The proof printout is all in capitals, with about ten basic symbols to show shifts and other typographical changes. Each line is identified with a number. These points are made clear in Exhibit 24. The punched corrections identify the line in which the correction is to be made and would look the same as in Exhibit 22, if typewritten simultaneously.

Summary of advantages

Summary of uses

Principal applications currently feasible are the prearation of reference works published at regular intervals giving upated, information, e.g. directories, encyclopaedias, membership directries, abstracts and indexes, telephone directories, bibliographies. The stored text can be used for surveys with considerable advantage sincethey can be made rapidly and the data base can be easily kept up to date.

A few figures


It is difficult to give an indication of costs except for a definite problem. In the case of the UIA problem, offers from printers using the classical method and one using computer typesetting indicated that the latter was cheaper thantwo offers by printers using conventional methods. This did not take into account the advantages arising from the ability to produce specialized publications, surveys, etc.

The future of computer typesetting

The future in computer typesetting terms is full of conjecture. Machines producing images by means of cathode ray tubes are coming off the drawing board and on to the market, and appear to be capable of setting type of an acceptable qualityat much higher speed; electron beam microfilm printers producing at the rate of 90,000 characters a second are being discussed; the development of ultra high speed magnetic drum printers producing a printing image directly from the computer core and running at. speeds in excess of the newspaper rotary could indicate the elimination of typesetting as a separate process altogether.

Note on research and storage of information by NGOs

Computers and punched card equipment offer considerable flexibility in the storage of information for use in subsequent surveys.

Advantages of using computers

What sort of research can usefully be done on computers?

There are two principal types of research uses:

The most useful applications for computer processing are where:

Summary of procedures for such computer-aided research

Example of the use of computers for surveys

Data available in typed form at the UAI on 2,500 international organizations and the international meetings held over the past 5 years .(approx. 2,000 meetings per year) was analysed using punched card equipment. One card was used to describe the organization. A form schedule was filled out for each organization and another for each, meeting, each was used to prepare a punched card. The study resulted in the preparation of approximately 6,000 punched cards. The cards contained such details as : date of foundation, number of memers, budget range, geographical location, meeting periodicity, etc. Using these details and combining them in significant ways an extensive study of the development of international congresses as they affected the planned construction of a congress centre in Paris was effected.

Using similar techniques a national NGO in the U.K. recently questioned its members to discover what preferences they had for the subjects to be discussed at their forthcoming congress. The questionnaire was used as a punch instruction document, cards were punched and analysed as above. The organization was thus ableto balance its congress program to satisfy the maximum number of members most of the time.

The uses of these techniques to analyse a follow developments in the speciality of each NGO should now be reasonably clear, e.g. statistics on health figures in different countries, development and manipulation of education statistics, storing and retrieving bibliographical information, etc.


It is very difficult to produce a cost estimate without details of the work to be done. Each case has to be judged on its merits.

The cost of treating information in this way. can be broken down into the following groups : design of schedule/punc instruction document, filling out the document for each item of the group to be analysed, punching the details onto punched cards, processing of the punched cards, analysis of results.

The main costs are the manual work of filling out thedocument onthe basis of each item. An advantage is that using automatic techniques, no creative thinking needs to be done when the form is filled out - the work need not be done by an expert. The expert'stime is confined to designing the schedule and commenting on the results. The processing cost on classical equipment is very low (3CO FB/hour maximum). On computer equipment the processing would be completed very rapidly under normal circumstances and the important cost would be designing the computer program to produce the desired results.

Note on the use of a service bureau

A service bureau is a means of making expensive equipment available to those organizations requiring the sophistication of the equipment but who only need if for a few hours a day or month. There are a number of different types of service bureau. They may be classified firstly by the type of work they do and the equipment they possess:

The last two may further be classified according to the nature of the organization operating the bureau and the purpose for which it is operated:

Advantages of using a service bureau

How would an NGO make use of a service bureau

a) Initial analysis and file creation

b) Regular processing

Use of computers by NGOs

Routine problems of NGOs

Every NGO has to face thefollowing routine administrative problems on a regular basis:

For an international NGO this problem is made more difficult because of the need to work in several languages.

What methods are possible for routine operations?

In each case, it is important to determine to what extent the equipment should be owned, hired or used via a service bureau.

Reasons for considering new methods

Main problems of NGOs with respect to computers

Why have Computer Companies and Commercial Service Bureaux not attempted to contact NGOs?

Many of the above problems also exist within commercial organizations and have been successfully dealt with by computer companies. The reason that NGOs have not been approached are:

What steps can be taken by NGOs and whom should they contact?

For those NGOs which are interested in exploring the possibility of elec- tronic data processing, any of the following organizations can be of assistance:

An example: the solution envisaged for the routine problems of the UIA

The UAI is faced with most of the problems listed above. They are presently dealt with using a manual addressograph machine and the preparation of invoices, reminders, etc by hand.

In a commercial organization it is quite probable that these individual problems would be grouped together into several major operations (for each of which a 'program' would be prepared). Each operation would be dealt with separately, one after the other. This means preparing expensive indiidual programs and then setting the machine up for each different operation. This is a most expensive way of using a machine and is only justified when a large amount of time spent in processing relative to the amount of time spent in setting up the machine.

In an effort to avoid the high initial cost of a preparing a number of programs, and the regular supplementary cost of setting up the machine for each job, it was decided to adopt a radical and somewhat unconventional solution.

The solution is to do all addressing (publicity, magazine wrappers, etc.) and all invoicing (including reminders, monthly accounts, etc.) in one operation. These operations would be performed once a month on a service bureau computer possibly with the aid of equipment mecanografie classique.

Functions performed by the semi-commercial processing solution

Example of use of correction paper tape (Exhibit 19a)

Original tape Correction tape Corrected tape


Example of use of computer typesetting in the composition of a two-part directory (Exhibit 20)

Part A >
Part B

Typical flowsheet of the computer typesetting process (Exhibit 21)


Example of typed equivalent of paper tape during computer tyepsetting (Exhibit 22)

The sequence of characters and shift indications shown in the block below is exactly as it would appear on the typewriter which was also being used to produce the paper tape The string of characters is shown after conversion into readable text in Exhibit 23.

Job specification

The specification for the job is as follows:

Job number: ICT/1/67 Job title: Specimen job Fount: P001, 10 set, 10 point on 11 Measure: 22 ems Space limits: 8,18,24

Since these differ in every case from the standard job specification stored in the Run 1 master program a complete specification is punched at the head of the input tape:

JVICT/1/67VSPECIMENVJOB FVP001V10V10V0NV11 MV22 SVSV13V24EJ (The symbol t represents the format shift code)

Input Text

The job specification is immediately followed by the text punched into paper tape and ending with an EJ code. The punching conventions depend on the type of keyboard in use, but after translation into Commer Code the complete input string is as follows:

Certain punching errors have occurred, and are marked on the proof print produced on Run 1. One error however, does not appear on the proof. In line 4 the sequence 'PREDtsPRODUCTION' indicates that the operator made a conscious error and corrected it by using the word kill function. The unwanted characters are deleted from the text.

Examples of second proofs as supplied from the UIA printer in the computer typesetting process (Exhibit 23)


Example of the selection of shift and format keys present on the printout supplied by the computer (Exhibit 24)

The text in the proof below explains the symbols used.

Possible layout of general invoice / statement of account document to be produced by computer (Exhibit 32)


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