Perhaps the most important business
development of the last twenty years has been the widespread adoption
of personal computers, fax machines, advanced copying and printing
techniques, email and, of course, the Internet.
It has enabled instantaneous, worldwide communication and
facilitated truly multinational corporations and global enterprises.
This website describes the ancestry of many of these products.
While the telegraph was in widespread
use by the time of the Civil War, the development of office machines
in the last quarter of the nineteenth century helped spur the
expansion of American business from local to regional to national.
Many of these products were written about in Harper’s
Weekly as they were patented and adopted.
In particular, the 173,000 advertisements in the publication
between 1857 and 1912 included many different brands of typewriters,
adding machines, copiers, and dictating machines.
Even the keypunch and tabulating machines, which were developed
initially for the 1890 census and are the predecessor of today’s
computers, were covered in some depth.
Dr. Robert C. Kennedy explains the
history of eight of these office machines from early prototypes
through descriptions and illustrations in Harper’s Weekly
(1857-1912) to contemporary models.
Anyone interested in today’s computers and the Internet
should enjoy this website.
John Adler, Publisher
|Selected items on Business Machines from the
Harper’s Weekly, 1857 - 1912:
Adding Machine / Calculator, 1857
Dictation Machine, 1878
Shorthand Typewriter, 1883
Keypunch Tabulating Machine,