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    

Antique Candlestick Telephone Hand Carved Walnut Curved Tambor Cabinet NrAntique 1800s Franklin Typewriter With Unusual Design1944 150 Photos Album Yangtze Hong Kong China Office Strategic Services WwiiAntique 1878 Stenograph Shorthand TypewriterKeuffel & Esser 5" Pocket Slide Rule K&e 1961 Deci-lon 68 1130 Magnifier 7 1/8"Remie Remington Scout Green TypewriterAntique Royal Portable Typewriter Model P Vintage 1930 In Case Excellent ClassicAntique Fuller's Calculator Slide Rule With Manual & Box Stanley Of LondonWestern Electric Brass Manual Candlestick TelephoneVintage Curta Calculator, Type 1Antique Hammond Multiplex Folding Typewriter W/case & PlatesOptima Elite Glossy Black Typewriter From 1953, Small Font Working(video Inside)Vintage Kolibri Groma Typewriter Great Condition Burgundy In Case6 5x7 Photos Pow World War Ii Chinese Atrocity Victims Soldiers Office Strategic1944 World War Ii China Chinese Flag Handwritten Note Office Strategic ServicesCurta Type Ii Precision Calculator S/n #536246 Original Leather Case Impressive Optima Plana Glossy Black Typewriter From 1954,working (video Inside)Vintage Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer Slide Rule, Revised Edition 19771944 Woman Spy Confidential Orders Office Strategic Services Macdonald Travel ChK&e 68 1287 4181-1 Pocket Slide Rule 1962? With Box Manual Leather SheathVintage Arcadia Telephone & Typewriter Salt & Pepper Miniatures In PackageKings County Sheriff's Office California Vtg Cox & Stevens Load Adjuster Slide Rule Boeing B-17g E624 Military Usaaf AafVery Rare - Htf - Pickett 4 Foot Teaching - Slide RuleVintage Imperial Typewriter Cleaning Outfit.Curta Type Ii Precision Calculator Original Case Beautiful ConditionVintage Remington Noiseless Portable Typewriter (c. 1931)Ready To Write! Refurbished 1937 Corona Standard Portable Typewriter & CaseRefurbished Vintage Royal Quiet De Luxe Typewriter Excellent Working ConditionWestern Electric Office Desk Card Dialer Telephone Model 2660 A1m BeigeVintage 1916 Royal #10 Glossy Black Typewriter W/ Double Split Side Windows NiceLightning Calculator; Quincunx Statistical Training Tool, Model Wd-6?, With CaseThe Hours Of The Divine Office In English & Latin 3 Vols Liturgical Press 1963/4Hartzell Aircraft Propellers For Decoration Man Cave Garage OfficeVintage Pink Typewriter Smith-coronaGreat Eastern Cutlery Gec # 13 Clerk Office Knife 1941 Royal Kmm Typewriter Magic Margin Touch Control Black Great ConditionDefense Cover Office Program Challenge CoinGreat Eastern Cutlery #13 Office Clerk Smooth Ivory Bone #130217 GecAmerican Brand With Indians Pictured, Typewriter Wide Ribbon Tin, Circa 1900 Porcelain Canadian National Telegraph Cable Office Flange Sign Railroad Railway Pickett Slide Rule 600-esUnderwood Champion TypewriterOliver, Very Early 1890s Typewriter Ribbon Tin From Mittag & VolgerVintage Royal Quiet De Luxe Deluxe Portable TypewriterVintage 1930s Royal Portable Standard Model O Touch Control Manual Typewriter 1950s Royal Heritage Typewriter - Great Working ConditionVintage Smith Corona Sterling Floating Shift Manual Typewriter With Case 1940'sVintage Royal Quiet De Luxe Typewriter Gray Plastic Keys In Original Case W KeyOld Underwood Portable Typewriter With CoverGorgeous 1960 Olivetti Lettera 22 Portable Vintage Typewriter, W/case ItalyVintage Standard Rubber Stamp Stand With Railroad Stamps, Frisco Main Office 100Sergeant Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Florida Goldtone Badge Vintage American Bell Candlestick Telephone2 Hammond Typewriter Co., New York, Typewriter Ribbon TinsVintage Rare Erika Portable Typewriter W/case Seafoam Green Euc Model 15?60s Vintage Olympia Report Electric Typewriter And Case For Parts Or RepairBrother Gx-6750 Correctronic Daisy Wheel Electronic Typewriter,..great ConditionWestern Electric 20al Candlestick Telephone - Excellent Survivor!Jim Halpert (the Office) Bobblehead