Carbons to Computers

Historical Timeline 1910-1919

Decade overview

More than seven million telephones, most of them rented to customers by AT&T, are in use in the United States in 1910.

Most businesses find it nearly impossible to survive without the telephone. People find it convenient and efficient to talk directly and immediately to each other rather than sending messages or letters by hand or post.

The daily lives of workers in all industries are changing significantly: an eight-hour workday is becoming the standard unit of measure for labor.

The general level of education in the United States is increasing: in 1910, there are ten thousand high schools in the United States, compared to five hundred high schools in 1870.

The 16th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified in 1913, giving Congress the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes.

World War I begins in 1914 and ends in 1918.

The plight of urban office workers becomes a focus for writers and artists. In 1917, Sinclair Lewis writes The Job: An American Novel about a young woman entering the world of business and the resulting conflict between marriage and career.

In 1919, American women gain the right to vote.

Corporate milestones

Lefax loose-leaf personal organizer invented by Philadelphia engineer J. C. Parker
Computing Tabulating Record Co. incorporated after consolidation of Bundy Manufacturing Co., Tabulating Machine Co., International Time Recording Co. of New York, and Computing Scale Co. of America (became International Business Machines in 1924)
Katharine Gibbs secretarial school founded to provide professional secretarial training to young women
Corona makes a portable manual typewriter
Metal Office Furniture Company founded (became Steelcase, Inc. in 1954)
Henry Ford introduces first true assembly line, reducing the assembly time for an automobile from 12.5 to 1.5 hours and providing a model for standardization
Edouard Belin invents the Belinograph, a portable facsimile machine capable of using ordinary telephone lines
Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Evelyn Gilbreth publish Motion Study, first major publication on application of time and motion study to habits of industrial workers
First desk models of staplers offered by the Boston Wire Stitcher Company
First North American transcontinental telephone call between Thomas A. Watson in San Francisco and Alexander Graham Bell in New York City
Calculating machine based on the binary numbers 0 and 1 built by J. Abraham and E. Bloch
First regular airmail between New York City and Washington, D.C.


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.

Introduction || Birth and Growth of the American Office || Office Equipment
Office Organization || Global Office || Conclusion
Historical Timeline || Lesson Plans || Resources || Site Contents
Home (text) || Home (graphics)

Smithsonian Education

Contact with any questions or comments

Smithsonian Institution Copyright 1998