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    

Rare Vintage 1959 Early Curta Model I Calculator – Pristine W/box & Paperwork!Rare Antique O'dell"s 1888 Patented TypewriterVintage, Professor Fuller, Stanley Tool, Calculating Slide Rule Computer & Case,L C Smith Corona Typewriter, Red With Excellent ConditionVintage Black Compact Portable Royal Typewriter Touch Control Hard CaseVintage Slide Rule: Pocket Pickett N 4p-t Vectr Type Log Log Dual Base Speed Vintage Slide Rule: Fowler's Long Scale Calculator Double Sided, In Case C.1898Antique Mercedes Typewriter Of 1924 ; 91 Years Old And Working Perfect ! VideoVintage Slide Rule: Pickett N3p Synchrolog In Box, Unsued W Instructions, CleanVintage Kellogg Candlestick Telephone Pat'd Nov.26,1901Antique Art Deco 1929 Remington 2-tone Green Portable Typewriter #3 +case WorksVintage Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter-glass KeysVintage 1930's Underwood Champion Portable Typewriter Rare Tripod Stand In CaseVintage Hermes 3000 Manual Typewriter W/ Case, Manual, And BrushesVintage 1949 Royal Quiet De Luxe Deluxe Gold Plated Rare Typewriter Ian Fleming Antique Royal Quiet De Luxe Portable Manual Typewriter & Case 1940s Glass KeysVintage L C Smith & Corona Standard Portable Typewriter Black 043bVintage Olympia De Luxe Maroon Portable Typewriter W/ Case Vintage Underwood Universal Portable Manual Typewriter GrayVintage1898? Blickensderfer Model #7 Typewriter W/original Oak Case Ser #34169Underwood Universal Portable Typewriter With Original Case-vintage 1930s49 Vintage Green Corona Typewriter Keys Steampunk Jewelry CraftsVintage Olympia Typewriter Made In Western Germany Sm4 Brown W/ Brown KeysAntique English Patent Circular Slide Rule Halden Calculex Watch Fob C1910Lot Of 4 Curta & Geniac Calculator Manual And BrochuresVintage 1940's Royal Quiet De Luxe Portable Typewriter W/ Case - Green KeysOld Royal Typewriter In CaseVintage Slide Rule: Pickett Circular Slide Rule 107 Es In Case W InstructionsSchrade Cut Co Usa Mint Office Knife 3.5" Equal End KnifeAntique Candlestick Telephone Marked Western Electric Some DamageStromberg Carlson Ball-top Non-dial Candlestick Telephone Phone Antique Vintage Pickett Slide Rule Model 6-t Statistical Quality Control With Case 12inCesaral Mental Mind Calculator Cesar Alonso Mindreading Magic Conjuring Vintage Olivetti Underwood Lettera 22 Italian Typewriter W/ Case Aqua Blue WorksAntique Vintage Royal Portable Typewriter W CaseAntique Orel Klein Adler Typewriter Vintage Royal De Luxe Black Portable Typewriter With Case Vintage Olympia Sm4 Manual Pica Portable Typewriter W/case Circa 1959 W.germanyAs Found Vintage Hermes Baby Typewriter - Functional!Excellent Royal Quiet Deluxe Typewriter-rare Brown Color-works! QdlVintage Smith Corona Corsair Deluxe Manual Typewriter Blue Teal Aqua With Case #286 Uss Ranger Aimd Office Vintage Hermes Baby Steel Gray Typewriter With CoverVintage Slide Rule: Pickett #300 Pocket In Box, Unsued W Instructions, CleanVintage 1970 Radiation Blackbody Slide Rule With Case And Manual Model 17 Germany Slide Rule Faber Castell Model 343 Sistem Baur Extremely Rare!*Antique Vintage Harris Visible Typewriter No 4 Vintage Lot Of 7 Typewriter Tools WrenchesFabulous Glossy Black Triumph Norm Typewriter Of 1937;..78 Years Old;..working40s Smith Corona Vtg Typewriter 10" Original Case Floating Shift Portable #043bWall Mount Antique Scissor Extending Candlestick Telephone MountRoyal Quiet De Luxe Flat Blue Portable 1950's Typewriter & Case ~ Working WellRare Vintage Corona Folding Portable Mini Manual Typewriter In CaseRoyal De Luxe Typewriter A661119 1937 Black W/ Silver Trim W/ Black Case Vintage Smith - Corona Clipper Typewriter With Hard Case And Glass Keys 1940s47 Glass Typewriter Keys Royal Touch Control Portable Manual TypewriterVintage Polished Brass Engraved Retro Antique 1927 Candlestick Telephone PhoneAntique Ericsson Candlestick TelephoneOld Typewriter Parts And ToolsVintage Royal Typewriter Keys For Jewelry. Metal Rimmed Green Keys White Letters