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It is said that you can't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been.

Office technology is evolving at a blistering pace. A recent television commercial pokes fun at the "old guy" in the office because he remembers floppy disks. Let's take a look at six technologies that changed the way offices operate or dramatically increased productivity.

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6 Office Technologies From the Days of Yore


1. The ball point pen.


Landislas Biro invented the ball point pen in 1935, which wasn't really that long ago when you think about it. In many places, these pens are commonly called "Biros." Consider how productivity increased when office workers no longer had to stop working to refill their pens with ink.

2. Cellophane Tape.


Anyone who has struggled with a bottle of glue will certainly appreciate what Dick Drew accomplished when he invented cellophane tape in 1930. His invention was something of a follow-on of masking tape, which Drew invented about five years earlier. Drew invented these products at 3M—no surprise there—for industrial uses but it wasn't long before they realized how they could be used in packages. 3M marketed the tape under the name "Scotch."

3. Liquid Paper.


Think of it as the early, analog version of the delete key. If you're a fan of "The Monkees" then you might know that Mike Nesmith's mother invented Liquid Paper. Working as a secretary in a bank she started using a little bottle of tempera paint to correct her typing mistakes. By the way, although Bette Nesmith Graham got serious about marketing Liquid Paper in 1956, it didn't become a profitable business until the middle of the 1960s.

4. Post-It Notes.


Think of these as the early, analog version of, well, digital Post-It Notes. This is an incredible invention because we use it today in it's original 1974 version and in it's digital adaptation. I have Post-It Notes stuck to the edge of my computer monitor and I often use the digital version to mark up computer documents. Thank you Art Fry and Spencer Silver.

5. Mimeograph machines


Keeping Staples in business before Xerography took over the job of creating copies, mimeograph machines led the way. Secretaries would type on special paper that would create a stencil. These were put on a round drum which was often turned with a hand crank. Purple ink was typically used, and it had a unique smell. Be thankful these are virtually obsolete today. They allowed for broad document circulation which dramatically increased the reach of an office or company.

6. Taylorism.


Frederick Taylor was an American Engineer who took office efficiency and worker supervision very seriously. He is credited as first person to come up with the idea of an open office space around the turn of the last century. He crowded workers together in a huge open environment. The boss men had offices around the edges so they could keep an eye on the workers. People are still experimenting with different office designs. Eventually the idea of an open office space gave birth to collaboration. I hope you don't work for a company still stuck in the Taylorism era.

These are just a handful of the many office and business technologies that have come and gone, or come and stayed. What are some others? And, can you think of some older technologies that are in dire need of being pushed out of the way by newer technologies?

Those would be gold.

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