Historical Timeline

Decade overview

Corporate milestones

At the turn of the century, the average workweek consists of ten-hour days, six days a week.

The new century brought important changes in the demographics of the office workforce. More than one hundred thousand women are employed as secretaries, stenographers, and typists.

The growing number of offices requiring staff for routine dictation, typing, and filing skills encourages potential employees to supplement their general education with specialized training.

Employers emphasize the high status appeal of "office work," as opposed to "factory labor," while reducing the salary levels for office work.

Paper clip patented
First transatlantic telegraphic radio transmission
First numerical keyboard for punching cards for tabulating machines developed by Herman Hollerith
Arthur Pitney, a founder of Pitney Bowes Inc., received a U.S. patent on the world's first postage meter approved for use by the U.S. Postal Service in 1920
First electric typewriter to be sold worldwide--the Blickensderfer Electric--produced
Clipper Manufacturing Company formed to manufacture paper-fastening devices (incorporated as ACCO in 1922)
L. C. Smith and Brothers Typewriter Company formed (became Smith Corona Company in 1926)
Three-ring binder patented by Irving Piff Manufacturing Company
Human speech transmitted via radio waves by scientist R. A. Fessenden
Star Furniture Company founded in Zeeland, Michigan (renamed Herman Miller in 1923)
Stenotype machine invented by Ward Stone Ireland
Photostat developed
The Haloid Company founded to manufacture and sell photographic paper (name changed to Xerox Corporation in 1961)
Telephotography inaugurated when Arthur Korn telegraphed a photograph from Munich to Berlin, Germany
Olivetti founded by Camillo Olivetti
Bakelite, the first totally synthetic plastic, patented

1900-1909 || 1910-1919 || 1920-1929 || 1930-1939 || 1940-1949
1950-1959 || 1960-1969 || 1970-1979 || 1980-1989 || 1990-

This material was generously provided by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.


Birth and Growth of the American Office

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