Phillip G. Martin has been working with computers since the age of punch cards, but next Friday he'll type his last keystroke as data processing director for the state comptroller's office.
The 62-year-old Pasadena resident is retiring after 35 years as a data processing director. He spent the last 16 of those years working at the state data processing division in Annapolis, which handles about 1.4 million computer transactions each day.
Though he has enjoyed working with computers for most of his life, Mr. Martin said the machines are not the best part of his job.
"The people relationships has been the greatest joy," he said. "It's a joy to take something that's technical and can be fTC confusing and make it simple."
Born and raised in Quinter, a west Kansas town of 800, Mr. Martin received his early education in a one-room school. He later graduated from Fort Hays State University in Kansas with a degree in music education and taught music in Texas for a year before joining the Army at age 23. He spent three years in the service and was trained in machine accounting.
"It changed my career," Mr. Martin said.
In March 1956, he arrived in Baltimore at the Army Intelligence Center in Fort Holabird, and remained there until 1958.
He spent more than a decade working for several companies before joining the state budget department in 1970.
Nine years later, he joined Louis L. Goldstein in the comptroller's office. Since then he has led the state through some recent tough technological times.
Last year, the comptroller's office had its worst tax season as employees tried to work out the bugs on a new computer system. They worked overtime and weekends to learn the system, now a model for the nation. The new system uses a computer scanner and allows workers to enter tax returns without typing the information. It can process up to 35,000 tax returns a day, a state official said.
Two years ago, the state combined the Baltimore and Annapolis data processing centers into a single facility, in Annapolis, eliminating more than 80 jobs.
Thanks to Mr. Martin's long-range planning, other jobs in the office were held open as they were vacated. Everyone from the Baltimore site had a new job when their old positions were cut. Closing the Baltimore facility saved taxpayers $5 million annually, Mr. Goldstein said.
"The consolidation was a terrible time, but it was great to see that people could be helped," Mr. Martin said.
Mr. Martin said he will keep working with the comptroller's office on a part-time basis to help a contractor who is developing computer programs for the Register of Wills in the state's 24 jurisdictions.