Today, when most of us head into the office, our quiet digital tools are ready and waiting, maintained by technology professionals and other unseen hands. But office work used to be much more of a do-it-yourself, hands-on affair. A sophisticated turn-of-the-century office, for example, might have boasted candlestick telephones, fountain pens with ink bottles, and a very rudimentary calculating machine, all ready and more than willing to malfunction at exactly the wrong time.

When copies of an important document needed to be produced, you didn't just knock out a PowerPoint and click send. Materials would have to be carefully gathered for the printer, who would laboriously set your peerless prose in type and then print your document by hand. Days might pass before your plan to re-organize the Midwest sales division would see the light of day.

One could send important communications by telegraph, either using Morse code or by sitting down at a printing telegraph machine. Early typewriters appeared in 1874, when E. Remington & Sons offered their customers a Sholes & Glidden “Type Writer” for $125. But the machines didn't really catch on broadly until the popular Underwood models of the 20th century.

Distributing what had been typed was not as automatic as the appearance of the FedEx truck at 4pm. Letters would have to be weighed before proper postage could be affixed, and then someone would have to trudge off to the nearest post office to make sure missives were mailed in time.

Much later in the 20th century, higher-tech office equipment came along, like slide rules, mechanical pencils, carbon paper, electronic calculators, and ultimately personal computers. Was this progress? We're not really sure!

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Pocket Protectors

Pocket Protectors

Dr. John Pojman's incredible gallery of over 500 pocket protectors, from every imaginable organization, company, an… [read review or visit site]

Early Office Museum

Early Office Museum

This site showcases pre-1920 office antiques, including paperweights, writing ink, paper fasteners, seal pressers, … [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

K&e Deci-lon Slide Rule Keuffel & Esser Co. 68 1130 With Pocket Case No Reserve!K&e Log Log Duplex Decitrig 4081-3 Slide Rule Keuffel Esser Rare Magnifier &caseUnusual Julius Andrae Candlestick TelephoneUnusual Royal Typewriter With Wood Grain FinishOld Antique Hammond Multiplex Portable Typewriter Vintage Decorative Office DeskRare 1930 Remington Portable Typewriter Turquoise Blue• Original Case Glass KeysMinnesota Conservation Office 120th Anniversary BadgeVintage Hermes Rocket Portable Typewriter With Original Carrying CaseHermes 3000 Typewriter Seafoam Green KeysVintage Industrial Age Royal Typewriter Glass Keys 1920s Beveled Glass WindowsVintage Smith-corona Blue Portable Silent Super Typewriter & Case With Manual Vintage Hermes 3000 Typewriter Desirable Standard Folding Typewriter In CaseShiny Black 1937 Royal Typewriter Model "o" Touch Control, Glass Keys & CaseCurta Calculator Type 1 #42959Vintage Royal Skylark Portable Manual Typewriter Made In Holland Cursive WritingVintage Underwood Universal Typewriter Serial #878431 Works FineAntique Smith & Corona Sterling Silver TypewriterVintage Hermes 3000 Portable Typewriter 1964 Includes Manual And BrushesVintage Olympia Typewriter In Case (beige/brown Keys)- Made In Western GermanyVintage Olympia Socialite Portable Typewriter Made In West GermanyCurta CalculatorHermes Rocket Green Portable Typewriter 1960sCurta Type Ii Hand-held Mechanical Calculator - S/n546554 "service" 1907 Muncie Typewriter Exchange Muncie, Indiana Ribbon TinFramed 1943 Coca-cola Wwii Armed Forces Office & Lady In Roller Skates ***179Candlestick Telephone Mfg By Stromberg CarlsonVintage Antique Candlestick Telephone PartsRare Royal Pink Color Quiet De Luze Portable Typewriter With Case K & E #68 1200 Slide Rule (4081-5) 20" Log Log Duplex Decitrig - Keuffel & Esser1935 Two-tone Green Underwood Portable 4 Bank Typewriter Serial #g713017 W/caseAdvertising Candlestick Telephone Pad Holder - Barr's Pharmacy - Unusual!Vintage Curta Calculator Type 1 #21435 With Canister And ManualVtg 1950s Olympia Sm3 Green Portable Typewriter W/ Case Really Mint Cond.germany25 All Different Round Typewriter Ribbon TinsDean Electric Company Candlestick Telephone - Super NiceVintage Underwood TypewriterVintage Corona # 3 Folding Typewriter With Case , Working ConditionK&e 5" Pocket Slide Rule Keuffel Esser 1961 Deci-lon 68 1130 With Book & CaseUnderwood Portable Typewriter* Antique Black Candlestick Telephone W/ 1929 Calendar Phone Book *Annie Lee President Obama And Family In The Oval Office Figurine Vintage&rare Aristo Studiolog 869 Slide Rule W/leather Case&manual Germany MadeVintage Candlestick Telephone Black Bakelite Rotary Style Works!International Time Recording Antique Office Wall Clock 1923 12" Wood #1-12 Secy Preowned Authentic Montblanc Mens Office Tribute Mozart Rose Gold Fountain Pen1910 Vintage Circular Slide Rule, Pocket Calculator, Halden's Calculex, EnglandVtg Smith Corona Sterling Portable Manual Blue Typewriter With Black Case 1950'sVintage Typewriter Smith Corona Skyriter W/case, Book, And BrushVintage 1950's Smith Corona Silent-super Typewriter Original CaseTypewriter1948 Vintage Smith-corona Sterling Floating Shift Typewriter In Case Adler Grundig Tippa Cursive Typewriter Portable Manual Great Condition Vintage1882 Important Letter Confederate Jeremy Francis Gilmer Civil War Battles OfficeMaroon Vintage Olympia Typewriter Wide Carriage Vintage 46 Remington Typewriter Keys Rings Crafts Jewelry SteampunkVintage Smith Corona Silent Portable Manual Typewriter Maroon W/case & Keys World Trade Center Office Key W Visitor Pass Badge Twin Towers Wtc Nyc 90th FlAntique 1930's Art Deco Streamline Remington Portable Typewriter Model 5t Vintage Smith Corona #3 Folding Portable Typewriter