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 Blickensderfer Model 9 Typewriter Antique Smith Premier No.4 Under Strike Keys Typewriter W/cover Works Nice!!Ansonia Large Calendar Office Regulator 100% All Original Runs Great!Vintage Hermes 3000 Portable Typewriter Sea Foam Green -elite Font -1970 -franceRoyal Ruby Red Typewriter With CaseVintage Curta Mechanical Calculator Rare Type 1 With Case Antique Bouchers Calculator Circular Slide Rule Stanley London Rare C1960 Type Ii Serial No. 513470 Curta CalculatorVintage Hotel Candlestick Telephone Nice! Working Vintage Smith Corona Aqua Blue Cosair Deluxe Portable Typewriter Western Electric 20bc Nickel Plated Candlestick Telephone - Fresh NickelVintage Remington 7 Seven Noiseless Portable Typewriter 1930s With Original Case1939 Glossy Model O Royal Portable Typewriter W Case Nu Ribbon ManualVintage Made In Italy Underwood Olivetti Lettera 22 Portable Typewriter & CaseBeautiful Western Electric Dial Candlestick Telephone, Restored & Working PhoneU.s. Rifle M1903a3 Stamped Trigger Housing Made By Smith Corona Typewriter Vintage Smith Corona Corsair Teal Aqua Blue Portable Manual Typewriter Near MintVintage A. W. Faber Castell Novo-biplex 2-83 N Slide Rule / In Original Box Vintage 1950's Royal Quiet Deluxe Typewriter Portable TypewriterVintage Swedish Remington Rand Model 1 Typewriter Case Foreign Letters Pd17284443 Underwood Typewriter Glass Top Keys Flat Backs Jewelry Crafts Steampunk ArtAntique Royal Standard Model 10? Desktop Manual Typewriter W/glass Panels & Keys1945 Oss Office Of Strategic Services R&a Report-russiaKeuffel & Esser Co. 1943 Merchant Slide Rule1898 Smith Premier Typewriter Boston Catalog4 Cottontale Cottage Village Pc-ice Cream Vendor/church,doctor Office,magic ShowAntique Typewriter Lc Smith Corona Series 8 1915 To 1925 Vintage Writing AuthorVintage Remington White Typewriter Keys For Jewelry Or CraftsAtlas Binary Slide Rule With Instruction Book And Case Copyrighted 1931 Pretty Pickett Pat. Pendiong Pocket Slide Rule N600-t And 2 Other RulesVtg~remington Rand~delux Model 5~manual Typewriter & Case~ser # B1514761~mintAntique Underwood Typewriter August 17 1915 J1204Vintage Faber Castell Addiator 63/22r Slide Rule GermanyVintage Silver-reed 750 Portable Manual Typewriter W Case - Works Beautifully!Ford Vintage Metal Letters F O R D Sign Garage Man Cave Decor Office 150 250 350Keuffel & Esser Slide Rule K & E Deci-lon With Case 259472 1941, 1961Old Patent June 5, 1900 20" Keuffel & Esser Mannheim Wooden Slide Rule With BoxVintage 1960's Royal - Safari - Deluxe Portable Manual Typewriter W/case U.s.a.The Office Dwight Schrute Bobblehead With Box F.b.i. New York Office Police Challenge CoinFaber Castell Nr. 2/82 62/82 Duplex Precision Slide Rule And CaseVintage K + E Pocket Slide Rule - (1955) - 68 1282 In BoxAntique Pencil/ Candlestick Telephone Curta Type Ii Calculator #528342 By Contina Ltd. Mauren - July 1964Curta Ii Mechanical Calculator- As Is-Nice Antique Lambert Typewriter With Case & AccesoriesVintage Curta Calculator Type I #39811 Museum Quality - All Works Great -no CaseCurta Type 1 Ser.#21553 Calculator With Metal Case As IsVintage Royal Quiet De Luxe Red Typewriter Beautiful!Olivetti Valentine Typewriter Color Red By Sottsass & King 1969 Compasso D'oroAntique Hammond Model 2 Typewriter Straight Keyboard With Case Excellent!Royal Typewriter Quiet De Luxe Complete With Case, Instructions And Key! (50's?) Vintage Olivetti Red Valentine Typewriter - Works Well - Very Nice Condition Rare Vintage Manual Typewriter Hermes Baby Cursive Fully Tested Portable Case Office Depot Gift Card Value $129.90Quiet De Luxe 1940's Vintage Typewriter Near Mint ConditionUnderwood Typewriter VintageAntique 1929 Underwood No. 5 Typewriter White Glass Keys Steampunk Parts/repairVintage Royal Kmm 1947 Five Row Keys Decimal Tab Accountants Number Typewriter 1950s Blue Royal Quiet De Luxe Portable Manual Typewriter