New Technology in the Workplace 1900-1950

New Technology in the Workplace 1900-1950

The 20th century will be remembered for the impact of its technological developments. Progress was already under way with new technology emerging in factories and offices. These developments helped transform clerical and manual work. The automation of these tasks reduced the amount of labour and time needed and made the results more accurate. Below are a few of the significant pieces of technological equipment from the early 20th century.

Adding machines

The invention of adding machines transformed banking and accountancy procedures. Calculating machines were widely used in offices from the early 20th century. In 1925, the Burroughs Adding Machine Company introduced the first portable adding machine. This modern equipment enabled calculation tasks to be completed faster and more accurately. Key-driven adding and calculating machines were widely used in accounting and business until electronic calculators replaced them in the late 1970s.


The advantages that electric typewriters brought to the workplace were greater speed and legibility. The machines enabled businesses to increase their efficiency, although it took until the middle of the 1950s for electric typewriters to be fully trusted and successful. The development of the typewriter goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of women working in the office. At the start of the 20th century, most typists were women. Being a typist was a 'respectable' job that did not demand high levels of education. The increased use of typewriters helped create further opportunities from this role. However, many women became stereotyped as able to carry out only menial clerical work, and had to fight to improve their position.

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