Last month, we looked at the progress workers have seen in the past century in the article “Fed Facts: Take a look at how far the American workforce has come.” In this month’s edition of Fed Facts, we’ll focus on how Federal Reserve employees’ everyday work has transformed through technology. We pulled the photos below from our archives to show you just how much has changed.
Before the age of computers, the New York Fed added, endorsed and sorted checks using the Check Department's 803 machines shown below. The New York Fed got its first computer for check processing in the 1960s. Today, high-speed computers handle all aspects of check processing.
The San Francisco Fed’s bond redemption department once used keypunch machines like the one shown below. Every bond required 37 punches. Redeemed paper savings bonds are now sent via image cash letters (ICLs) using the FedForward® Service.
In the 1950s, financial institutions were able to receive currency at the San Francisco Fed’s window through face-to-face transfers. For security reasons, this method was discontinued, and financial institutions now use FedCash® Services via the FedLine Web® Solution to place orders for currency and coin. Armored carriers then pick up the orders.
The New York Fed’s Markets Desk used to continuously update chalkboards with the prices of outstanding U.S. Government securities from phone conversations with dealers. Today, the entire Markets (Off-site) operation is done by computer.
In the early 1970s, the Chicago Fed coordinated the newly established Interdistrict Transportation System (ITS), an air transport service that provided overnight delivery of checks. Our Check 21-Enabled Services now offer financial institutions the capability to send and receive ICLs electronically.
The future of payments
From increased security to enhanced technology, the Fed has come a long way since the days of keypunch machines and chalkboards. More than 100,000 users in nearly 10,000 organizations now leverage FedLine® Solutions for electronic delivery of payment and information services. As the electronic payments environment evolves, we continue to deliver innovative product offerings for organizations of all sizes.
In our role as central bank, leader catalyst and payment services provider, we are committed to collaborating with a wide array of stakeholders to enhance the speed, safety and efficiency of the U.S. payment system. To learn more about our ongoing efforts toward the future of payments, visit FedPaymentsImprovement.org (Off-site).
New York Fed Photo Gallery (Off-site)
Chicago Fed Timeline (Off-site)