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Business Machines


BUSINESS MACHINES. The history of business machines includes a vast array of devices, most invented during or after the early nineteenth century. Many of the basic technologies were invented early in the industrial revolution but not fully implemented until workers could

be compelled to use them. The typewriter, for example, was first patented in 1714 by Henry Mill but rarely used until the twentieth century, when low-wage female workers replaced men in clerical positions. Similarly, one of the first mechanical calculators was invented by Blaise Pascal in 1642, and while desk calculators became common in accounting offices by the nineteenth century, their operators lost their status as high-skill workers when women replaced men in the age of electronic keypunch equipment, accounting machines, and computers. In addition to their implications for male-female power struggles, many classes of business machines, such as the cash register (1879) and the dictation machine (1888), are also part of the larger story of the mechanization of white collar jobs. Many office machines were invented as part of an ongoing search for ways to improve business communication. This category includes the telegraph (1841), telephone (1876), pneumatic tube messaging systems (1865), and a succession of document facsimile or copying systems. Today, many of the functions of traditional office technologies have been incorporated into the personal computer, which has become nearly universal in the business environment.


See alsoFax Machine ; Office Technology ; Telephone ; Typewriter .

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