Office Technologies of the Past 100 Years

We may not be able to live forever or ride to work on a hover board, but we're definitely living during a time of innovation. There once was an entire generation of people in the workforce who had no idea that something like the internet or computers would even be possible. With that being said, can you even begin to imagine the types of things the workers of the future will have at their fingertips? Starting with the 1910s, take a journey back in time and learn about the technologies of the past that have helped to shape the working world.

1910s - The Modern Assembly Line

Where would any of our products be without the help of an assembly line? In 1913, Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line for the mass production of automobiles. Ford reduced the time it took to assemble a car from 12 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes through this process. This great invention set the pace for workplace productivity as we know it. Many products that we use in our everyday lives were created using an assembly line. From our cars to toys, the assembly line has helped businesses to be more efficient for over 100 years.

1920s - The Electronic Television

In 1927, Philo Taylor Farnsworth created the world's first electronic television. Farnsworth was only 21 years old when he invented the electronic television and revolutionized screen time forever. The system he created essentially captured moving images using a beam of electrons. The first ever image transmitted by the technology was a line. Who knew that one little line would eventually lead to the 4K Ultra HDTV's that we have in 2018. Television paved the way for so many technologies in business and entertainment.

1930s - The Photocopier

At SumnerOne, we've got a special soft spot for copiers. In 1938, Chester Carlson invented the photocopier. Carlson used static electricity created by a handkerchief, light and dry powder. The first photocopied image was of the date and name of the neighborhood in which the copy was made. The image read "10.22.38 Astoria." Even though the copier didn't hit the market until the late 1950s, this piece of technology was responsible for big office changes all across the globe. The copier has come a long way since the 1930s, but sure enough, you can find one in just about every office you visit.

1940s - The Microwave

One person's accidental invention created a household necessity. In 1945, Percy Spencer was working with building magnetrons for active radar sets when he realized the candy bar in his pocket had melted. Spencer and his colleagues took this observation and created what would come to be known as the first true microwave oven. Try and imagine a working world where you didn't have the convenience of heating up your lunch quickly and easily. The invention of the microwave has been making cooking easier both in the kitchen and the office for decades.

1950s - Hard Drives

In 1956, the IBM team led by Rey Johnson created the hard disk. The hard drive was the size of two refrigerators and weighed about one ton. It held 5MB of data, with a price tag of $10,000 per megabyte! To put that into perspective, 5MB of storage is equal to about one 5 minutes long MP3 on your device. This means that you couldn't even keep the most streamed song of the 20th century on your device because Bohemian Rhapsody is 5:55 minutes long!

1960s - Electronic Calculators

The 1960s was the decade of the electronic calculator when it comes to technology. Whether you believe the first electronic calculator was the ANITA MARK VII or FRIDEN EC -130, both of these devices made computing equations easier in the early 1960s. These old devices were much bulkier and more expensive than our calculators of today, but they still got the job done. Now we have calculators built into our phones! First came mental math and doing things on paper and now we can plug the numbers in and have an answer instantly.

1970s - Ethernet

Could you imagine using anything other than an Ethernet connection for your business? Probably not. In 1973, Bob Metcalfe revolutionized the way data is sent and received. Metcalfe wrote a memo describing how an Ethernet network system would work. He talked about how it would be possible for interconnecting computer workstations would be able to send data to one another and to laser printers. Ethernet took off and Metcalfe continued to spend the 1970s working on ways to perfect his invention that would forever change the modern business landscape.

1980s - Microsoft Windows Operating Systems

Microsoft is a household name, and it has been for decades. Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families. The operating system was released in 1985 and has revolutionized the PC game ever since. To this day, Microsoft Windows is still the most widely used operating system in the world. We've seen many updated to the system, and if that is any indication, there will be many more to come.

1990s - Adobe Photoshop

Adobe released the first version of Photoshop in 1990 and has been adding to the creativity ever since. Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard for photo and graphics editing. Since the creation of Photoshop, there is now Adobe Creative Suite which has a little bit of something for everyone when it comes to creating excellent graphics, illustrations, and videos.

2000s - USB Flash Drives

Long gone are the days of floppy disks. In 2000, the USB or Universal Serial Bus came to the United States. The USB drive opened the door to endless possibilities when it comes to storing, transferring, and copying data. Whether you know it by the name USB, flash drive, or thumb drive, you have probably used one. USB drives make it possible to take you data on the go.

2010s - Square Card Readers

Jack Dorsey created the Square card reader in early 2010. This technology made charging things on a credit card easier than ever. Square is a card swiper that can be attached to a mobile phone and they will email the end user their receipt. This technology has been great for small businesses and street vendors alike. Square provides small businesses and consumers with added convenience.

Staying Ahead of the Changes in Technology

Technology is always changing. In 2018, as soon as you buy a new device the next one will already be on its way. We've come a long way since the 1910s with technology and there are no signs of anything slowing down.

Interested in learning more about how you can keep your business ahead of the technology curve? SumnerOne is here to help. Give us a call, we're ready to help your office to be more efficient than ever.

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Originally published December 18, 2018, updated January 10, 2019


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