4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Commerce / Trade Timeline

Theme

2,800,000 BCE – 8,000 BCE

Evidence of Early Trade Routes? Circa 80,000 BCE

Shells of Nassarius gibbosulus, estimated to be around 82,000 years old, found in Morocco. (View Larger)

Nassarius gibbosulus shell beads were discovered in Grotte des Pigeons, Taforalt, Morocco more than 40 km (25 mi) from the Mediterranean Sea, where they originated. "By 40,000 years ago, humans were transporting decorative shells—and perhaps trading them—over areas of more than 500 km (310 mi)" (http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/behavior/ancient-shell-beads, accessed 05-10-2010). 

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8,000 BCE – 1,000 BCE

Cuneiform Writing in Mesopotomia Begins at Uruk in Association with the Development of Urban Life Circa 3,200 BCE – 2,900 BCE

Cuneiform writing in Mesopotamia began as a system of pictographs written with styli on clay tablets. The earliest cuneiform tablets. written in proto-cuneiform, were discovered in excavations of periods IV-III of the Eanna (Eana) district of Uruk (Warka) an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.

Between 1928 and 1976 approximately 5000 proto-cuneiform tablets were excavated at Uruk by the German Archaeological Institute.

"But these are not the only witnesses to the archaic script. Proto-cuneiform texts corresponding to the Uruk III [circa 3100 BCE] tablets have been found in the northern Babylonian sites of Jemdet Nasr, Khafajah, and Tell Uquair, testifying to the fact that the new technology spread quickly throughout Babylonia soon after its invention (in ancient Iran proto-cuneiform possibly inspired the proto-Elamite script ca. 3100 BC.) Illicit excavations since the 1990s account for several hundred additional texts, which possibly originate from the ancient Babylonian cities of Umma, Adab, and Kish. These texts have the advantage of being generally in better condition than those from Uruk, which, . . . represented discarded rubbish and thus are frequently fragmentary. To date the proto-cuneiform corpus numbers approximately six thousand tablets and fragments" (Christopher Woods, "The Earliest Mespotamian Writing," Chapter 2 of Woods, Teeter, Emberling (eds) Visible Language. Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond [2010] 35-36).

"The formation of an urban society and the innovations that came with it and which occurred for the first time in Uruk – a regional and supraregional centre – had an enormous impact on the entire Near-Eastern world. Very quickly, impressive temples and palaces sprung up, overshadowing the early grand architectural monuments in Uruk’s centre. A striking feature of these new buildings was their form, the ziggurat or stepped tower, which went on to become a defining element of ancient Near-Eastern temple architecture. The use of writing as an administrative tool also laid the foundations for science and learning in the ancient Near East. Very early on, lexical lists of terms and objects began to emerge – the first of their kind – and these were passed down the generations. Some of these records contain lists of city officials and specialist terms for occupations that provide an insight into a highly stratified society. Other records bear lexical lists of everyday objects, providing an insight into material culture. Particular importance was given very early on to observing the stars as a means to read the future. The ancient Babylonian palace of the ruler Sin-Kashid, built in the 2nd millennium BCE, exemplifies Uruk’s role as part of the ancient Near-Eastern empire. The palace served as both the seat of the ruler and as a commercial and administrative centre. It was here that diplomatic correspondence, legal contracts, surety bonds, and various court documents were set in writing. The site also served as a lively trading centre. Deliveries of raw materials were processed into valuable goods that denoted the owner’s status. The palace was also a place where writers were educated. The writers played a vital role in everyday life, as they compiled the correspondence and contractual agreements on behalf of the largely illiterate population" (http://www.uruk-megacity.de/index.php?page_id=6, accessed 01-13-2013).

"Writing emerged in the context of temple bureaucracy in the cities of the southern Iraqi marshes some time in the late fourth millennium BC. A tiny number of accountants used word signs (usually pictograms) and number signs to account for institutional assets — land, labor, animals — and their secondary products. They wrote on refined clay tablets, about the size of a credit card but around 1 cm thick, incising the signs for the objects they were recording with a pointed stylus and impressing the numbers with a cylindrical one. The front surface of the tablet was marked out into boxes, each one containing a single unit of accounting, logically ordered, with the results of calculations (total wages, predicted harvests, and so on) shown on the back. This writing was barely language-specific — it represented concrete nouns, numbers and little else, with only occasional clues to pronunciation and none at all to word order — and was known only to a handful of expert users. Its functionality was as yet so limited that it was used only to keep accounts, or to practice writing the words, numbers, and calculations needed for accountancy" (Robson, "The Clay Tablet Book in Sumer, Assyria, and Babylonia," Elliot & Rose [eds.] A Companion to the History of the Book [2007] 67-68.)

"Indeed that the vast majority of the earliest texts [discovered at Uruk and elsewhere in Mesopotamia] are administrative in nature suggests that the invention of writing was a response to practical social pressures—simply put, writing faciliated complex bureaucracy. It is important to stress in this connection that literature plays no role in the origins of writing in Mesopotomia. Religious texts, historical documents and letters are not included among the archaic text corpus either. Rather, these text genres arise relatively late, beginning in the middle of the third millennium, some seven hundred or more years after the first written evidence" (Woods, op. cit, 34). 

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The Origins of Glassmaking Circa 2,500 BCE – 1,250 BCE

Archaeological evidence and the analysis of ancient sources point to a Mesopotamian origin for glassmaking around 2500 BCE. This craft and its makers migrated to Egypt around 1400 BCE where glassmaking soon developed as an independent technology.

"Glass beads are known from the 3rd millennium BC but it is only in the late 2nd millennium that glass finds start occurring more frequently, primarily in Egypt and Mesopotamia. This is not to say that it was a widespread commodity, quite the contrary. It was a material for high-status objects with archaeological evidence for the Late Bronze Age (LBA) also showing an almost exclusive distribution of glass finds at palace complexes such as that found in the city of Amarna - Egypt. Texts listing offerings to Egyptian temples would start with gold and silver, followed by precious stones (lapis lazuli) and then bronze, copper and other not so precious stones with glass mentioned together with the lapis lazuli. In this period it was rare and precious and its use largely restricted to the elite.

"Production of raw glass occurred at primary workshops of which only 3 are known, all in Egypt: Amarna, Ramesside [place?] and Malkata. At the first two sites cylindrical ceramic vessels with vitrified remains have been identified as glass crucibles where the raw materials (quartz pebbles and plant ash) would be melted together with a colourant. Interestingly the two sites seem to show a specialisation in colour, with blue glass, via the addition of cobalt, being produced at Amarna and red, through copper, at Piramesse. The resulting coloured glass would then be fashioned into actual objects at secondary workshops - far more common in the archaeological record. It seems certain that glass making was not exclusive to Egypt (in fact current scholarly opinion resides with the industry having originally been imported into the country) as there are Mesopotamian cuneiform texts which detail the recipes for the making of glass. Further supporting this hypothesis are the Amarna Letters, a contemporaneous diplomatic correspondence detailing the demand and gift giving from vassal princes in Syro-Palestine to the Egyptian King, in these the most asked for item is glass.

The evidence then points to two regions that were making and exchanging glass. It seems logical to believe that at an initial stage it was glass objects, as opposed to raw glass, that were exchanged. The major element composition of glass finds from Mesopotamia and Egypt is indistinguishable with as much variation found within a specific assemblage than between different sites. This is indicative of the same recipe being used in both regions. As analytical techniques develop the presence of trace elements can be more accurately determined and it has been found that glass is compositional identical within each region, but it is possible to discriminate between them. This could be a huge step in uncovering trade patterns, however at present no Egyptian glass has been found in Mesopotamia, nor have any Mesopotamian glasses been found in Egypt.

"Across the sea, Mycenaean glass beads were found to have been made with glass from both regions. The fact that the beads are stylistically Mycenaean would imply an import of raw glass. Archaeological evidence for this trade comes from the Uluburun shipwreck, dated to the 14th century BC. As part of its cargo it carried 175 raw glass ingots of cylindrical shape. These ingots match the glass melting crucibles found at Amarna and Piramesse [Pi-Rammesse] " (Wikipedia article on Ancient Glass Trade, accessed 01-12-2012).

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The World's Oldest Harbor Circa 2,500 BCE

Photo of wharf at low tide, Wadi al-Jarf

Diagram of Harbour at Wadi al-Jarf.

Location of Wad al-Jarf.

Old Kingdom anchor at Wadi al-Jarf.

Between 2011 and 2013 a French-Egyptian archaeological mission from the French Institute of Archaeological Studies (IFAO) headed by Pierre Tallet, an Egyptologist at the University of Paris, discovered the most ancient harbor ever found on the shore of the Red Sea at Wadi al-Jarf 119 km (74 mi.) south of Suez. The harbor dates to the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt. Also discovered at the site were more than 100 anchors— the first Old Kingdom anchors found in their original context— and numerous storage jars. The jars have been linked with those of another site across the Red Sea, indicating trade between the two sites. Among products traded were copper and other minerals from Sinai. 

"The harbor complex consists of a 280 m (920 ft) long mole or jetty of stone that is still visible at low tide (28.8888°N 32.6815°E), an alamat or navigational landmark made of heaped stones, a strange 60 m × 30 m (200 ft × 98 ft) building of unknown function that is divided into 13 long rooms, and a series of 25 to 30 storage galleries carved into limestone outcrops. The building of unknown function is the largest pharaonic building discovered along the Red Sea coast to date. The storage galleries are between 16 and 34 m (52 and 112 ft) long, and are usually 3 m (9.8 ft) wide and 2.5 m (8.2 ft) tall.

"Inside the galleries, the archeological team discovered several boat and sail fragments, some oars, and numerous pieces of ancient rope. Twenty-five stone anchors were found under water, and 99 anchors were found in an apparent storage building. The discovery of anchors in their original context is a first in Old Kingdom archeology. Many of the anchors bear hieroglyphs, likely representing the boat's names from which they came.

"The port is to have been the starting point for voyages from mainland Egypt to South Sinai mining operations. Tallet speculates that the harbor may have also been used to launch voyages to "the mysterious Land of Punt", a known trading partner of Egypt. The archeologists who excavated the site believe that the harbor dates to the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu (2589–2566 B.C.), whose name is inscribed on some of the heavy limestone blocks at the site. That means the harbor predates the second-oldest known port structure by more than 1,000 years. There is some trace evidence of use during the early part of Fifth Dynasty, after which the harbor was likely abandoned" (Wikipedia article on Wadi-al-Jarf, accessed 04-25-2013).

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The Uluburun Shipwreck 1,375 BCE

The Uluburun shipwreck, a Late Bronze Age shipwreck discovered off Uluburun (Grand Cape) about 6 miles southeast of Kas in south-western Turkey, contained one of the most extensive surviving cargos excavated from the Mediterranean sea. As a result of 22,413 dives from 1984 to 1994 a multitude of items of raw material used in trade were excavated. Prior to the discovery of this shipwreck most of these items had been known primarily from ancient texts or Egyptian tomb paintings. The cargo matches many of the royal gifts listed in the Amarna letters.

The cargo, preserved in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Bodrum Castle, Bodrum, Turkey, included the following:

"♦ Copper and tin ingots

Raw copper cargo totaling ten tons, consisting of a total of 354 ingots of the oxhide (rectangular with handholds extending from each corner) type. Out of the total amount of ingots at least 31 unique two-handled ingots were identified that were most likely shaped this way to assist the process of loading ingots onto specially designed saddles or harnesses for ease of transport over long distances by pack animals. 121 copper bun and oval ingots. The oxhide ingots were originally stowed in 4 distinct rows across the ship’s hold, which either slipped down the slope after the ship sank or shifted as the hull settled under the weight of the cargo. Approximately one ton of tin (when alloyed with the copper would make about 11 tons of bronze). Tin ingots were oxhide and bun shaped.

"♦ Canaanite jars and Pistacia resin

At least 149 Canaanite jars (widely found in Greece, Cyprus, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt). Jars are categorized as the northern type and were most likely made somewhere in the northern part of modern-day Israel. One jar filled with glass beads, many filled with olives, but the majority contained a substance known as Pistacia (terebinth) resin. Recent clay fabric analyses of Canaanite jar sherds from the 18th-Dynasty site of Tell el-Amarna have produced a specific clay fabric designation, and it is seemingly the same as that from the Uluburun shipwreck, of a type that is exclusively associated in Amarna with transporting Pistacia resin.

"♦ Glass ingots

Approximately 175 glass ingots of cobalt blue turquoise and lavender were found (earliest intact glass ingots known). Chemical composition of cobalt blue glass ingots matches those of contemporary Egyptian core-formed vessels and Mycenaean pendant beads, which suggests a common source.

"♦ Miscellaneous cargo

Logs of blackwood from Africa (referred to as ebony by the Egyptians), Ivory in the form of whole and partial elephant tusks, More than a dozen hippopotamus teeth Tortoise carapaces (upper shells), Murex opercula (possible ingredient for incense),Ostrich eggshells, Cypriot pottery, Cypriot oil lamps. Bronze and copper vessels (four faience drinking cups shaped as rams’ heads and one shaped as a woman’s head), Two duck-shaped ivory cosmetics boxes, Ivory cosmetics or unguent spoon, Trumpet, More than two dozen sea-shell rings, Beads of amber (Baltic origin), Agate, Carnelian, Quartz, Gold, Faience, Glass

"♦ Jewelry, gold, and silver

Collection of usable and scrap gold and silver Canaanite jewelry. Among the 37 gold pieces are: pectorals, medallions, pendants, beads, a small ring ingot, and an assortment of fragments. Biconical chalice (largest gold object from wreck). Egyptian objects of gold, electrum, silver, and steatite (soap stone). Gold scarab inscribed with the name of Nefertiti. Bronze female figurine (head, neck, hands, and feet covered in sheet gold).

"♦ Weapons and tools

Arrowheads, Spearheads, Maces, Daggers, Lugged shaft-hole axe, A single armor scale of Near Eastern type, Four swords (Canaanite, Mycenaean, and Italian(?) types), Large number of tools: sickles, awls, drill bits, a saw, a pair of tongs, chisels, axes, a ploughshare, whetstones, and adzes.

"♦ Pan-balance weights

19 zoomorphic weights (Uluburun weight assemblage is one of the largest and most complete groups of contemporaneous Late Bronze Age weights) 120 geometric-shaped weights

"♦ Foodstuffs

Almonds, Pine nuts, Figs, Olives, Grapes, Safflower, Black cumin,  Sumac, Corianderm Whole pomegranates, A few grains of charred wheat and barley" (Wikipedia article on Uluburn shipwreck, accessed 01-12-2012).

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1,000 BCE – 300 BCE

The Elephantine Papyri: One of the Most Ancient Collections of Jewish Manuscripts Circa 450 BCE

One of the oldest collections of Jewish manuscripts, dating from the fifth century BCE, the Elephantine papyri were written by the Jewish community at Elephantine (Arabic: جزيرة الفنتين‎, Greek: Ελεφαντίνη) , then called Yeb, an island in the Nile at the border of Nubia. The Jewish settlement of Elephantine was probably founded as a military installation about 650 BCE, during the reign of Manasseh of Judah, to assist Pharoah Psammetichus I in his Nubian campaign. The dry soil of Upper Egypt preserved documents from the Egyptian border fortresses of Elephantine and Syene (Aswan). Hundreds of these Elephantine papyri survived, written in hieratic and Demotic Egyptian, Aramaic, Greek, Latin and Coptic, and consisting of legal documents and letters, spanning a period of 1000 years. 

"Though some fragments on papyrus are much older, the largest number of papyri are written in Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Persian Empire, and document the Jewish community among soldiers stationed at Elephantine under Persian rule, 495-399 BCE. The Elephantine documents include letters and legal contracts from family and other archives: divorce documents, the manumission of slaves, and other business, and are a valuable source of knowledge about law, society, religion, language and onomastics, the sometimes surprisingly revealing study of names...." (Wikipedia article on Elephantine papyri, accessed 12-09-2013).

Porten, Bezalel et al, The Elephantine Papyri in English. Three Millennia of Cross-Cultural Continuity and Change (1996). 

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Export of Papyrus Rolls from Greece to the Euxine Coast 399 BCE

A bust of Xenophon. (View Larger)

In his Anabasis, describing events that occurred between 401 and 399 BCE, Greek historian and soldier Xenophon reported in Book Seven, Part V, line 14, that books (papyrus rolls) formed part of the cargo of ships wrecked off Salmydessus on the north coast of Thrace. This is evidence that books were exported from Athens (?) to the Euxine coast by this date, reflective of an international book trade.

Reynolds & Wilson, Scribes and Scholars 3rd ed. (1991) 244.

(This entry was last revised on April 14, 2014.)

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300 BCE – 30 CE

The Earliest Surviving Counting Board Circa 300 BCE

The Salamis Tablet. (View Larger)

Excluding counting on the fingers, counting boards are the earliest known counting device, and a precursor of the abacus. They were made from stone or wood and the counting was done on the board with beads or pebbles or or sand or dust.  These devices have also been called the "sandboard abacus." The earliest surviving example of a counting board or a gaming board may be a tablet found about 1850 CE on the Greek island of Salamis which dates back to about 300 BCE. It is preserved in the National Archaelogical Museum, Athens. 

"It is a slab of white marble 149 cm long, 75 cm wide, and 4.5 cm thick, on which are 5 groups of markings. In the center of the tablet is a set of 5 parallel lines equally divided by a vertical line, capped with a semi-circle at the intersection of the bottom-most horizontal line and the single vertical line. Below these lines is a wide space with a horizontal crack dividing it. Below this crack is another group of eleven parallel lines, again divided into two sections by a line perpendicular to them, but with the semi-circle at the top of the intersection; the third, sixth and ninth of these lines are marked with a cross where they intersect with the vertical line."  Three sets of Greek symbols (numbers from the acrophonic system) are arranged along the left, right and bottom edges of the tablet.

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600 – 700

Arab Conquest of Egypt Resulted in Smaller Exports of Papyrus-- A Probable Cause of the Eventual Adoption of Greek Minuscule in Byzantine Book Production 641

Canon 22 of the Council of Nicea II (British Museum, MS Barocci 26, fol. 140b), where the top is written in minuscule and the bottom in unical.(View Larger)

Having conquered Egypt the previous year, in 641 General 'Amr ibn al-'As founded the city of Fustat, later to named Cairo. This was the first city on the continent of Africa founded by Muslims.

Since the only supply of papyrus came from Egypt, it is thought that the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs may have coincided with a reduced supply of papyrus in Constantinople. The reduction might have been caused either by the exhaustion of the papyrus plantations or because the Arabs retained the available supply for their own use. As a result of the lack of papyrus Byzantine writers were dependent on the more expensive medium of parchment, and this may have contributed to the eventual adoption in Byzantine book production of the more economical Greek minuscule hand, which had previously mainly been employed for letters, documents, accounts, etc. "It occupied far less space on the page and could be written at high speed by a practised scribe" (Reynolds & Wilson, Scribes and Scholars, 3rd ed [1991] 59).

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Introduction of Paper Money in China Circa 650 – 960

A jiaozi from the Song Dynasty. (View Larger)

"In the 600s there were local issues of paper currency in China and by 960 the Song Dynasty, short of copper for striking coins, issued the first generally circulating notes. A note is a promise to redeem later for some other object of value, usually specie. The issue of credit notes is often for a limited duration, and at some discount to the promised amount later. The jiaozi nevertheless did not replace coins during the Song Dynasty; paper money was used alongside the coins" (Wikipedia article on Banknote, accessed 08-13-2009).

Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed [1955]103-04.

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700 – 800

Traversing the Mediterranean in Twenty Days 700

"Water is to all primitive systems of transport what railways have been in modern times: the one, indispensable artery for heavy freight. Once a cargo left the waters of the Mediterranean or of a great river, its brisk and inexpensive progress changed to a ruinous slow motion. It cost less to bring a cargo of grain from one end of the Mediterranean to another than to carry it another seventy-five miles inland.

"So the Roman empire always consisted of two, overlapping worlds. Up to A D 700, great towns by the sea remained close to each other: twenty days of clear sailing would take the traveller from one end of the Mediterranean, the core of the Roman world, to the other. Inland, however, Roman life had always tended to coagulate in little oases, like drops of water on a drying surface. The Romans are renowned for the roads that ran through their empire; but the roads passed through towns where the inhabitants gained all that they ate and most of what they used, from within a radius of only thirty miles" (Brown, The World of Late Antiquity AD 150-750 [1989] 12-13).

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800 – 900

Origins of the Term Algebra Circa 830

Abouy 830 Persian mathematician, astronomer and geographer Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, published Al-Kitāb al-mukhtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-jabr wa-l-muqābala (Arabic: الكتاب المختصر في حساب الجبر والمقابلة The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing. This was written "with the encouragement of the Caliph Al-Ma'mun as a popular work on calculation and is replete with examples and applications to a wide range of problems in trade, surveying and legal inheritance. The term algebra is derived from the name of one of the basic operations with equations (al-jabr) described in this book. It provided an exhaustive account of solving polynomial equations up to the second degree, and introduced the fundamental methods of 'reduction' and 'balancing', referring to the transposition of subtracted terms to the other side of an equation, that is, the cancellation of like terms on opposite sides of the equation" (Wikipedia article on Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, accessed 01-23-2010).

The work was translated in Latin as Liber algebrae et almucabala by Robert of Chester (Segovia, circa 1145) from which our word "algebra" originates, and also by Gerard of Cremona. Robert of Chester's translation was translated into English as Robert of Chester's Latin Translation of the Algebra of Al-Khowarizmi with an Introduction, Critical Notes and an English Version by Louis Charles Karpinski (1915). Karpinski included a survey of the manuscripts of Chester's text available to him.

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900 – 1000

The First Printing Encountered by European Travelers 994

Song Dynasty Jiaozi, the world's earliest paper money.

"Paper money was the first form of Chinese printing met with by European travelers, was independently discussed by at least eight pre-Renaissance European writers [beginning with Marco Polo], and, so far as is known, the only form of Chinese printing described in European writings of the pre-Gutenberg days" (Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed [1955] 108-9).

Bank notes from the Song Dynasty, which issued the notes because of a shortage of copper for coinage, are essentially woodcuts with captions, representing some of the earliest woodcuts that survived.

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1100 – 1200

Origins of the Paris Book Trade Circa 1170

"It is generally accepted that by c. 1170 at latest there were many glossed books of the Bible being made in Paris, and the surviving manuscripts display characteristics indicative of commercial production.

"The characteristics include simple matters of method and routine; the regularization (after two or three decades' experimentation) of the juxtaposition of gloss and text. It is not just the fact that these conventions emerged but also their rapid diffusion that, together, suggest centralized production in quantity—the concentrated and repetitive output associated with urban commercial production. There is even an informal and quite early (c. 1170?) accounting, jotted down on the back pastedown of a Parisian glossed Book of Numbers owned by Ralph of Reims, recording payment for books completed and the purchase of parchment for books yet to be written: 'Pentateuch, Job, Twelve Prophets, Matthew, and Luke, with parchment for the Psalter and the Epistles and note (?): 28 livres and 10 sous'; this is a direct indication of commercial production.

"If in the twelfth century there was no booktrade in the way it developed later in Paris; nevertheless there was clearly a structure of some sort, capable of producing a significant number of large books with complex layouts. We find most attractive the hypothesis that the large urban abbeys of Paris, and specifically the abbey of St-Victor, fostered the growth of the city's commercial booktrade by engaging lay scribes and illuminators to make manuscripts, when necessary. St-Victor's growth among Parisian abbeys to the first rank in importance in the middle of the twelfth century is well documented. By providing work for lay artisans, the abbey would in effect have encouraged the development of independent métiers. In this context, a well-known passage from the Liber ordinis of St-Victor (c. 1139) deserves to be cited once again: 'All writing,whether done inside the abbey or out, pertains to the office of the armarius [librarian]; he should provide the scribes with parchment and whatever else is necessary for writing, and he is responsible for hiring those who write for pay'. The implication is double: there were scribes for hire in Paris before the middle of the twelfth century, and St-Victor hired them (R. Rouse & M. Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers. Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris 1200-1500 I [2000] 26).

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1200 – 1300

Fibonacci Introduces Arabic Numerals to the European Public and Describes the Fibonacci Sequence 1202

Folio 124r of the Codex magliabechiano, a manuscript of Liber Abaci preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze. (View Larger)

In 1202 Leonardo of Pisa (Leonardo Pisano) later known by his nickname Fibonacci, wrote Liber Abaci or The Book of the Abacus or The Book of Calculation. In Liber Abaci Fibonacci introduced Arabic numerals to the European public. These Fibonacci had learned while in Africa with his father who wanted him to become a merchant.

"Liber Abaci was not the first Western book to describe Arabic numerals, but by addressing tradesmen rather than academics, it was the book that convinced the public of the superiority of the new system. The first section introduces the Arabic numeral system. The second section presents examples from commerce, such as conversions of currency and measurements, and calculations of profit and interest. The third section discusses a number of mathematical problems. One example, describing the growth of a population of rabbits, was the origin of the Fibonacci sequence for which the author is most famous today. The fourth section derives approximations, both numerical and geometrical, of irrational numbers such as square roots. The book also includes Euclidean geometric proofs and a study of simultaneous linear equations."

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First Recorded Issue of Paper Money in the Mongol Empire 1224 – 1227

The first recorded issue of paper money in the Mongol Empire. "From 1260, when Kublai Khan completed the conquest of China and took the title of emperor, the issue of paper money became a settled and permanent feature of the Mongol government's financial policy. . . . Records have been preserved showing year by year the amount of notes issued through Kublai's reign and that of his successors for ninety-seventy years (1260-1356)" (Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed [1955] 107).

"Paper money was the first form of Chinese printing met with by European travelers, was independently discussed by at least eight pre-Renaissance European writers, and, so far as is known, is the only form of Chinese printing described in European writings of pre-Gutenberg days. Marco Polo's description is the most detailed" (Carter, op. cit., 109).

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Possibly the First Joint-Stock Company Circa 1250

In 1190, with the permission of comte Raymond V of Toulouse, a sort of dam (chaussée) and adjacent mills were built in and on the banks of the River Garonne in Toulouse, France. 

Around 1250 96 shares of the Société des moulins du Bazacle, or Bazacle Milling Company, were traded in Toulouse at a value that depended on the profitability of the mills the society owned. The name Bazacle derived from the Latin vadaculum, or "little ford." The original stock offering was underwritten by a group of local seigneurs who shared the profits according to the number of shares they possessed. The shares of this society came to be traded on the open market in Toulouse, and their value fluctuated according to the profitability of the mills. In the sixteenth century Rabelais stated that the Bazacle mills were the most powerful in the world. The company, which survived until 1946, is sometimes claimed as the earliest example of a joint-stock company.

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The Travels of Niccolo and Maffeo Polo 1266

A map illustrating both the first and second Polo expeditions. (View Larger)

In 1266 Venetian traders Niccolò and Maffeo Polo, the father and uncle of Marco Polo, were among the first Westerners to travel the Silk Road to China. Before the birth of Marco, they established trading posts in Constantinople, Sudak in the Crimea, and in a western part of the Mongol Empire. In 1266 the Polos reached the seat of Kublai Kahn in the Mongol capital Khanbaliq, Khanbaliq or Dadu (also Ta-Tu or Daidu), now Beijing.

Marco Polo, who wrote the famous account of the travels of his father and uncle, did not accompany them on this expedition.

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A Clear Record of Early Block Printing in Tabriz 1294

Tabriz, Iran, as seen through Google Earth. (View Larger)

"Tabriz is the only place in the Islamic world where there is a clear record of early block printing. In the year 1294 at this Mongol capital of Persia there was an issue of paper money with text in Chinese and Arabic.. . . . The notes. . .were direct copies of Kublai's, even the Chinese character being imitated as part of the device upon them. . .There was an Arabic inscription on each note to the effect that the notes were issued in the year 693 of the Moslem era (A.D. 1294), that all who issued false notes should be summarily punished, and that 'when these auspicious notes were put in circulation, poverty would vanish, provisions become cheap, and rich and poor be equal.' The prophecy was not fulfilled. After the constrained use of the new ch-ao for two or three days, Tabriz was in an uproar; the markets were closed; Izzudin, the minister who had proposed the issue, became the object of intense hatred and according to some accounts was murdered; and the whole project had to be abandoned.

"This dramatic issue of a printing project a century and a half before Gutenberg in a great comsopolitan community near the confines of Europe could have not gone unobserved in the commercial republics of Italy" (Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed [1955] 170-71).

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The Lure and Romance of Travel to the East 1298 – 1299

Folio 54r from a facsimile of 'Le divisament dou monde,' preserved at the University of Graz, in Germany. (View Larger)

While in prison in Genoa from 1298 to 1299 Marco Polo supposedly dictated a book to a romance writer, Rustichello da Pisa. His work, which was very frequently copied, was a rare popular success in the period before printing. 

"The impact of Polo's book on cartography was delayed: the first map in which some names mentioned by Polo appear was in the Catalan Atlas of Charles V (1375), which included thirty names in China and a number of other Asian toponyms. In the mid-fifteenth century the cartographer of Murano, Fra Mauro, meticulously included all of Polo's toponyms in his map of the world. Marco Polo's description of the Far East and its riches inspired Christopher Columbus's decision to try to reach Asia by sea, in a westward route. A heavily annotated copy of Polo's book was among the belongings of Columbus. Polo's writings included descriptions of cannibals and spice growers" (Wikipedia article on The Travels of Marco Polo, accessed 04-04-2010).

"His book, Il Milione (the title comes from either 'The Million', then considered a gigantic number, or from Polo's family nickname Emilione), was written in the Old French and entitled Le divisament dou monde ('The description of the world'). The book was soon translated into many European languages and is known in English as The Travels of Marco Polo. The original is lost, and we have several often-conflicting versions of the translations. The book became an instant success — quite an achievement in a time when printing was not known in Europe."

Christopher Columbus's annotated copy of 'Il Milione.' (View Larger)

"An authoritative version of Marco Polo's book does not exist, and the early manuscripts differ significantly. The published versions of his book either rely on single scripts, blend multiple versions together or add notes to clarify, for example in the English translation by Henry Yule. Another English translation by A.C. Moule and Paul Pelliot, published in 1938, is based on the Latin manuscript which was found in the library of the Cathedral of Toledo in 1932, and is 50% longer than other versions. Approximately 150 variants in various languages are known to exist, and without the availability of a printing press many errors were made during copying and translation, resulting in many discrepancies" (Wikipedia article on Marco Polo, accessed 01-29-2010).

Marco Polo's work was first published in print in a German translation issued by printer Friedrich Creussner of Nuremberg in 1475 under the title of Hie hebt sich an das puch des edeln Ritters vnd landtfarers Marcho Polo, in dem er schreibt die grossen wunderlichen ding dieser welt Übers. aus dem Ital ISTC No.: ip00901000. A Latin edition followed in 1483-84. Two editions in Italian appeared in 1496 and 1500. In December 2012 a digital facsimile of the first German edition was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link. The title page consists of a full-page woodcut surrounded by the verbose title.

♦ From the standpoint of printing before its invention in the West, Polo's work contained the earliest detailed account of Chinese printed paper money that was widely available in Europe. It was through Polo's account, and possibly by seeing actual examples of Chinese paper money, that Europeans may have first learned about printing. Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed (1955) 109-11.

In spite of its wide fame, recent scholars question whether Marco Polo actually went to China.

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The European Table Abacus Circa 1299

A woodblock from Gregor Reisch's Margarita Philosophoca, 1508, depicting a table abacus. (View Larger)

The European table abacus or reckoning table became standardized to some extent by the end of the 13th century. The pebbles previously used as counters were replaced by specially minted coin-like objects that were cast, thrown, or pushed on the abacus table. They were called jetons from jeter (to throw) in France, and werpgeld for “thrown money” in Holland.

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1300 – 1400

The Oldest Known English Public Advertisement Circa 1340

Portions of an early poster written on parchment by a professional Gothic scribe were found as part of the stiffening inside a bookbinding made in Oxford about 1340. 

"The fragments come from a single sheet, written on one side only in a whole range of different Gothic scripts, and they are stained and weathered. The supposition is that the poster was once tacked up outside a stationer's shop (presumably in Oxford) until it became obsolete or was replaced and so was taken down and stored as a useful scrap of thick parchment. One day its pieces proved ideal for padding out a binding, and thus the oldest known English public advertisement has come down to us. It shows short specimens of twelve different scripts for different classes of liturgical manuscript, from a large choir psalter to little portable processionals with music. There are similar Continental specimens from the fifteenth century, advertising the range of hands available from the scribes Herman Stepl, of Münster in Westphalia, for example, or Robert of Tours in the diocese of Nantes. Presumably the customer came into the shop, looked over the patterns as one might a menu in a takeaway restaurant, and left an order for a particular script" (de Hamel, Medieval Craftsmen. Scribes and illuminators [1992] 39 and plate 31).

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The Relative Costs of the Components of Medieval Manuscripts 1374 – 1375

"To give us an idea of the costs of making manuscript books in the Middle Ages we have an example of the costs incurred in making a copy of Henri Bohic's voluminous Commentaires, which Etienne de Conty had made in 1374 and 1375 by the copyist Guillaume du Breuil. It is a work of two large in-folio volumes, one with 370 leaves and the other with 388. A note on the inside of each volume tells us that the work cost 62 livres and 11 sous in Parisian money. This sum was made up of the following:

- The copyist's salary: 31 livres 5 sous
- The purchase and preparation of the parchment, including the mending of holes: 18 livres 18 sous
- Six initial letters with gold: 1 livre 10 sous
- Other illuminations, in red and blue: 3 livres 6 sous
- The hiring of an exemplar for the copyist provided by Martin, Carmelite clerk: 4 livres
- Repairs to holes in the margins, and stretching: 2 livres
- Binding: 1 livre 12 sous

These manuscripts are now kept in the Bibliothèque municipale d’Amiens, shelfmark 365" (blog.Pecia: Le manuscrit medieval, 5 novembre 2007).

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Costs for a Missal Produced in 1382 1382

Costs for a missal produced in 1382 by bookseller Thevenin Langevin, preserved in La bibliothèque de l'ancien collège de Dormans-Beauvais (Collège de Beauvais) in Paris:

- copyist's salary: 24 livres
- illumination: 5 livres 4 sous (2.305 "grosses lettres" and 2.214 "verses"), and 5 livres 12 sous for "Joachim Troislivres", illuminator, who made the "histoires" and the large letters of gold and blue.
- the hiring of an exemplar : 32 sous
- binding: 32 sous
- "fermeilles" : 48 sous
- "pipe": 6 sous 4 deniers
- "chemisette" and "toille": 8 sous
- "enseignes": 3 sous (Elisabeth Pellegrin, Bibliothèques retrouvées [1990] 50).

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1400 – 1450

Printing Playing Cards 1418

The Stuttgart Cards. Originally in the collections of the dukes of Bavaria, these are considered amongst the earliest surviving sets of playing cards.  They date from around 1430. A study of the watermarks in the paper revealed that the patper came from the Ravensburg paper mill and was made between 1427 and 1431.

Card makers, who presumably were card printers printing from wood-blocks, are mentioned five times in the city records of Augsburg and Nuremberg by 1418. About the same time the records of the city of Ulm in Germany show that cards were being shipped in barrels to Sicily and Italy.

Carter, History of Printing in China 2nd ed (1955) 186.

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Serial Workshop Production of Medieval Manuscripts Circa 1420 – 1470

An image of Moses from the Book of Leviticus: folio 141v of a manuscript bible produced in the workshop of the scribe Diebold Lauber. (View Larger)

The scribe Diebold Lauber of Haguenau, Germany, who produced illuminated manuscripts of vernacular paraphrases of biblical history called "History Bibles", is thought to have employed an early form of organized "mass production" in the production of manuscripts—a kind of precursor of the "mass production" of books introduced by printing.  Around seventy examples of illuminated manuscripts produced by Lauber's shop have been identified.

"The wide assortment of products which he advertised suggests that Lauber may have kept a stock of his books. Lauber's workshop is often viewed as a precursor of a printing house, because rationalised methods of production were employed in order to reduce the costs of labour. . . . the quires are composed of individual leaves, and the text is written in simple gothic cursive letters. The text is structured by means of indices, titles and chapter headings.

"Also, the simply coloured pen illustrations drawn directly on the paper, in the most cases without a border or background, reveal a tendency towards serial production. With a limited range of artistic means, a small number of icongraphic types were used for various genres of texts. The illustrations most characteristic for Lauber's workshop were created by the painters of the so-called 'Malergruppe A', a group of artists active between 1425 and 1450. . . ." (Wagner, Als die Lettern laufen lerneten. Medienvwandel im 15. Jahrhundert [2009] No. 1).

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Card Printing in Venice Has Outside Competition 1441

Eighteen cards from a pack of an early form of north Italian playing cards, with the swords back-to-back and curved outwards. Believed to be Venetian, dated 1462.

An edict of the Council of Venice indicated that the card printing industry in this city was being interfered with by outside competition.

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The First English Patent for an Invention 1449

Henry VI. (View Larger)

Henry VI of England granted the earliest known English patent for invention to Flemish-born John of Utynam through an open letter marked with the King's Great Seal called a Letter Patent.

The patent gave John a 20-year monopoly for a method of making stained glass that had not previously been known in England,  for creating the stained glass windows of Eton College.

Though English patent system is the world's oldest continuously operating system of patents, the first English patent was not the oldest patent, as Venice was granting patents to glass makers in the 1420s.

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1450 – 1500

Caxton Prints the First Book Advertisement in the English Language 1476 – 1477

In 1476 or 1477 printer William Caxton issued the first book advertisement in the English language. The small broadside, which offered for sale Caxton’s edition of the Sarum Ordinal or Pye, the priest’s manual of variations in the Office during the ecclesiastical year, was intended to be displayed in the neighborhood outside Caxton's shop in Westminister Abbey. The seven-line Advertisement reads in its archaic spelling:

"If it plese any man spirituel or temporel to bye ony pyes of two and thre commemoraios of Salisburi use empryntid after the forme of this preset lettre whiche ben wel and truly correct, late hym to come to Westmonester in to the almonry at the reed pale and he shal have them good chepe. Supplicio stet cedula [please do not remove this handbill]."

ISTC no. 00355700 cites copies at the John Rylands Library in Manchester and at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. In January 2015 a digital facsimile of the Bodleian copy was available at this link.

Painter, William Caxton. A Biography (1977) 98-99.

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1500 – 1550

Origins of the Pencil Circa 1500 – 1565

 Pencil 'lead' has never actually contained the metal; its name arrose from a visual similarity between the two substances. (View Larger)

Sometime between 1500 and 1565 an "enormous" deposit of very pure and solid graphite was discovered near Borrowdale parish, Cumbria, England. The substance appeared to be a form of lead, and consequently it was called plumbago, the Latin word for lead ore. The material could easily be sawn into sticks; the locals found that it was very useful for "marking sheep."

The Cumbria deposit was the only large scale deposit of graphite ever found in this solid form, and until the end of the 18th century this deposit remained the only source of graphite for pencils, allowing England to retain a monopoly on solid graphite used for pencils until about 1860. 

Other aspects of the early history of the pencil remain uncertain. Simonio and Lyndiana Bernacotti are believed to have created the first carpentry pencil. They did this by hollowing out a stick of juniper wood. "Shortly thereafter, a superior technique was discovered: two wooden halves were carved, a graphite stick inserted, and the two halves then glued together—essentially the same method in use to this day. The black core of pencils is still referred to as 'lead,' even though it never contained the element lead."

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Cuthbert Tunstall Issues the First Book Published in England Devoted Exclusively to Mathematics October 14, 1522

English Scholastic, church leader, diplomat, administrator and royal adviser, then Bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall (Tonstall, Tonstal) published De arte supputandi libri quattuor in London at the press of Richard Pynson. Based on the Summa de arithmetica of Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli, this was the first printed work published in England that was devoted exclusively to mathematics. Its woodcut title was engraved by Hans Holbein the Younger.

"In the dedicatory epistle Tonstall states that in his dealing with certain goldsmiths he suspected that their accounts were incorrect, and he therefore renewed his study of arithmetic so as to check their figures. On his appointment to the See of London he bade farewell to the sciences by printing this book in order that others might have the benefit of work which he had prepared for his own use. The treatise is in Latin, and, although it was written for the purpose of supplying a practical handbook, is very prolix and was not suited to the needs of the mercantile class. It is confessedly based upon Italian models, and it is apparent that Tonstall must have known, from his reidence in Padua and his various visits to Italy, the works of the leading Italian writers. The book includes many business applications of the day, such as partnership, profit and loss, and exchange. It also includes the rule of false, the rule of three, and numerous applications of these and other rules. It is, however, the work of a scholar and a classicist rather than a business man.

"The word 'supputandi,' in the title, was not uncommon at that time. Indeed there was some tendency to use the 'supputation' for arithmetic and to speak of calculations as 'supputations.'

"Tonstall dedicates the work to his friend Sir Thomas More, whose talented daughter Erasmus addressed as 'Margareta Ropera Britanniae tuae decus,' —ornament of thine England. More speaks of Tonstall in the opening lines of his Utopia: 'I was colleague and companion to that incomparable man Cuthbert Tonstal, whom the king with such universal applause latelly made Master of the Rolls; but of whom I will say nothing; not because I fear that the testimony of a friend will be suspected, but rather because his learning and virtues are too great forme to do them justice, and so well known, that they need not by commendation unless I would, according to the prover, 'Show the sun with a lanthorn.' . . . ." (Smith, Rara Arithmetica I [1908] 132-34).

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1650 – 1700

The World's Oldest Auction House is Founded 1674

Stockholms Auktionsverk (Stockholm's Auction House), the world's oldest auction house, was founded in 1674.

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1700 – 1750

Early Government Incentive for Scientific Research November 12, 1713 – 1770

On November 12, 1713 the Parliament of Great Britain passed An Act for Providing a Publick Reward for Such Person or Persons as Shall Discover the Longitude at Sea. This was duly published in 1714.

One of the most famous early examples of government incentive for scientific research, this Act of Parliament established a reward of £20,000 for anyone who could invent a reliable and practicable method of finding longitude at sea to within half a degree, with lesser prizes offered for ways of finding it to within one degree and within forty minutes. The Act also established a permanent body of Commissioners, known as the Board of Longitude, to evaluate the merits of all proposed methods, award the prizes and provide research grants of up to £2,000. Despite the incentive provided by the enormous first prize, the problem, which had baffled navigators for centuries, remained unsolved for nearly fifty years, until astronomer Johann Tobias Mayer calculated lunar tables which were accurate enough to calculate longitude at sea to within about half a degree, and John Harrison invented the first accurate marine chronometer about 1760. For his tables in 1763 Mayer's widow received £3000 of the £20,000 prize. Later, after a long struggle, John Harrison received between £8000 and £9000 of the same prize money. 

A preliminary version of Mayer’s tables was published in the proceedings of the Göttingen Scientific Society in 1753; meanwhile, Mayer continued to improve the tables until his death in 1762. In 1763 Mayer’s widow sent a copy of the improved tables to the Board of Longitude in application to the prize. The improved tables were first edited for publication by Nevil Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal, as Tabulae motuum solis et lunae novae et correctae. . . quibus accedit methodus longitudinum promota, eodem auctore, and published in London by John Nourse in 1770. Maskelyne had tested Mayer’s earlier tables with positive results on a voyage to the island of St. Helena in 1761. He also used Mayer’s tables to compute the lunar and solar ephemerides in the early editions of his Nautical Almanac, and since Maskelyne was on the Board of Longitude we may assume that he was influential in having a portion of the prize awarded to Mayer’s widow. Appended to Mayer’s tables are two short tracts, one on determining longitude by lunar distances, together with a description of the reflecting circle (invented by Mayer in 1752), and the other on a formula for atmospheric refraction, which applies a remarkably accurate correction for temperature.

Four years earlier Maskelyne had co-authored with Yorkshire clockmaker John Harrison a technical manual on the design of the chronometer, The Principles of Mr. Harrison's Time-Keeper, with Plates of the Same. This had also been published in London by John Nourse. Harrison perfected a chronometer accurate enough to measure time at a steady rate over long periods, thus permitting the measurement of longitude by comparison of local solar time with an established standard time. Although it was soon supplanted by simpler mechanisms, Harrison's chronometer revolutionized the science of navigation, as it gave navigators their first means of observing true geographical position at any given moment during a voyage. There was no comparable advance in navigational aids until the development of radar in the twentieth century.

Harrison's chronometer was tested on two voyages to the West Indies in 1761 and 1764 and found to be well within the range of accuracy demanded by the 1714 act. In view of this success Harrison felt that he had a legitimate right to the prize money, but the Board of Longitude, on which Nevil Maskelyne sat, raised several objections, one of them being that Harrison had not given them a satisfactory demonstration of how the chronometer worked. Harrison finally agreed to dismantle the instrument before a committee chosen by the Board and to give a full account of its mechanism and manufacture; the results of this demonstration, which took place in 1765, were noted by Nevil Maskelyne and published along with Harrison's own explanation of his invention. The demonstration was ruled satisfactory, but even so Harrison was awarded only half the prize money; it was not until 1773, following the intercession of George iii, that Harrison received the balance.

Baillie, Clocks & Watches: An Historical Bibliography (1951) 140-141, Gould, The Marine Chronometer: Its History and Development (1960) 1-17. Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science (1964) no. 42a. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) Nos. 2, 995, 1468. Wepster, Between Theory and Observations: Tobias Mayer's Explorations of Lunar Motion (2010) 33-40.

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Lombe's Silk Throwing Mill: The First Factory 1718 – 1721

Lombe's Mill, a silk throwing mill built by Thomas Lombe on an island in the river Derwent in Derby, England from 1718-21, was the first successful powered continuous production unit in the world, and the model for the factory concept later developed by Richard Arkwright and others in the Industrial Revolution.

The mill seems to have been the result of early industrial espionage. Silk weaving technology had evolved in Italy since the thirteenth century. The Italians had developed two machines-- a throwing machine and a doubler-- capable of winding the silk onto bobbins while putting a twist in the thread.

"They called the throwing machine, a filatoio, and the doubler, a torcitoio. There is an illustration of a circular handpowered throwing machine drawn in 1487 with 32 spindles. The first evidence of a externally powered filatoio comes from the thirteenth century, and the earliest illustration from around 1500. Filatorios and torcitoios contained parallel circular frames that revolved round each other on a central axis. The speed of the relative rotation determined the twist. Silk would only cooperate in the process if the temperature and humidity were high, in Italy the temperature was elevated by sunlight but in Derby the mill had to be heated, and the heat evenly distributed." (Wikipedia article on Lombe's Mill, accessed 09-30-2012).

About 1715 Thomas Lombe's brother John obtained employment at one of the Italian shops where the secret silk-throwing machinery was used. As the story goes, John stole into the shops at night and carefully diagrammed them by candlelight. He brought the designs back to England in 1716. In 1718 Thomas obtained British patent No. 422 for "A New Invention of Three Sorts of Engines never before made or used in Great Britaine, One to Wind the Finest Raw Silk, Another to Spin, and the Other to Twist the Finest Italian Raw Slik into Organzine in great Perfection, which was never before done in this Kingdom."

"Little of the original mill remain. It is known from written sources that it was five storeys high rectangular in plan. It was built of brick, in flemish bond, being 33.5m long by 12m wide. It was built on a series of stone arches that allowed the waters of the River Derwent to flow through. The mill was 17m high,topped by a shallow pitched roof.The throwing machines were two storeys high, and pierced the first floor. The winding machines were situated on the top three floors. All the machines were powered by Sorocolds external undershot waterwheel- one that was 7m in diameter and 2m in width. Its axle entered the mill through a navel hole at first floor level. It drove a vertical shaft which was 0.45m square. This drove a horizontal shaft or lay shaft that ran the length of the mill. The torcitoios and filatoios took their power from this shaft. The vertical shaft was extended past the second floor by an iron gudgeon to a further vertical shaft that reached the top 3 floors to drive the winding machines. The mill needed to be heated in order to process the silk and this was explained in the 1718 patent. It was reported in 1732 that Lombe used a fire engine (steam engine) to pump hot air round the mill. The stair column was 19.5m high, its layout is not known and there is no information on how bales were hoisted between the floors" (Wikipedia article on Lombe's Mill, accessed 09-30-2012).

(This entry was last revised on 05-10-2016.)

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Benjamin Franklin Issues the First American Trade Catalogues April 11, 1744

In a Guide to American Trade Catalogues 1744-1900 (1960) page x Lawrence B. Romaine stated that the earliest American trade catalogue was the following list of books for sale issued by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1744:

A Catalogue of Choice and Valuable Books, Consisting of Near 600 Volumes, in Most Faculties and Sciences, viz: Divinity, History, Law, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Poetry, etc., Which Will Begin to be Sold for Ready Money Only, by Benjamin Franklin, at the Post Office in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, the 11th day of April 1744, at Nine a Clock in the Morning and for Dispatch, the Lowest Price is Mark'd in Each Book. The Sale to Continue Three Weeks, and No Longer; and What Then Remains Will be Sold at an Advanced Price. Those Persons that Live Remote, by Sending their Order and Money to Said B. Franklin, May Depend upon the Same Justice as if Present.

The 16-page pamphlet was divided into sections, following the traditional method of classifying the books by size: Books in folio, Books in quarto, Books in octavo, books in duodecimo, and, as a final item, a pair of globes 16 inches in diameter made by in London by J. Senex. (This information comes from Romaine p. 71.)

When I wrote this entry in November 2014 I could not find a digital facsimile of the rare original. I did note that a facsimile edition of the copy in the Curtis Collection of Philadelphia Imprints at the University of Pennsylvania Library was issued in 1948 with an introduction by Carl van Doren.

Romaine page 358 also cited a pamphlet written and printed by Franklin on the Franklin Stoves issued the same year: An Account of the New Invented Pennsylvanian Fire-Places (Philadelphia, 1744). Though Romaine cited some disagreement in 1960 as to whether this was actually a trade catalogue, its commercial purpose seems to have become widely accepted, as per the introductory comments to the above linked-to copy of the text from the website of the National Archives.

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1750 – 1800

The Earliest Large-Scale Data-Processing Organization 1770

In 1770 the first banker’s clearing house, the earliest large-scale data-processing organization, was founded in London.

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Adam Smith's Classic of "Laissez-Faire" 1776

In 1776 Scottish Economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith published in London An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

Smith argued "that the free market, while appearing chaotic and unrestrained, is actually guided to produce the right amount and variety of goods by a so-called "invisible hand". . . . Smith believed that while human motives were often driven by selfishness and greed, the competition in the free market would tend to benefit society as a whole by keeping prices low, while still building in an incentive for a wide variety of goods and services. Nevertheless, he was wary of businessmen and argued against the formation of monopolies.

An often-quoted passage from The Wealth of Nations is:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.

"Value theory was important in classical theory. Smith wrote that the "real price of every thing ... is the toil and trouble of acquiring it" as influenced by its scarcity. Smith maintained that, with rent and profit, other costs besides wages also enter the price of a commodity.Other classical economists presented variations on Smith, termed the 'labour theory of value'. Classical economics focused on the tendency of markets to move to long-run equilibrium.

"Smith also believed that a division of labour would effect a great increase in production. One example he used was the making of pins. One worker could probably make only twenty pins per day. However, if ten people divided up the eighteen steps required to make a pin, they could make a combined amount of 48,000 pins in one day" (quotations from Wikipedia article on Adam Smith, accessed 01-14-2009).

While I have not seen edition size information for the first edition of Smith's Wealth of Nations, the edition must have been comparatively large—well over 1000 copies. According to American Book Prices Current, since 1975 there have been about 100 copies of the first edition sold at auction.

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 221.

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The First Official National Industrial Exposition Occurs in Paris 1798

In 1798 the first official public national industrial exposition, Exposition publique des produits de l'industrie, occurred in Paris. It was organized by the Marquis de Avèze and François de Neufchâteau, Minister of the Interior for the French Republic. For this two catalogues were issued. The first issue, printed in Paris by the Imprimérie de la République, consisted of 24 pages.  A second issue, expanded to 30 pages, was issued at Grenoble by J. Allier. Its title page read as follows:

EXPOSITION PUBLIQUE DES PRODUITS DE L’INDUSTRIE. Première exposition publique des produits de l’industrie française. Catalogue des produits industriels qui ont été exposés au Champs-de-Mars pendant les trois derniers jours complémentaires de l’An VI; avec les noms, départments et demeures des artistes et manufacturiers qui ont concouru à l’exposition; suivi du Proces-Verbal du Jury nommé pour l’examen de ces produits. A Grenoble: Chez J. Allier, imp. cour de Chaulnes, [1798].

"It appears from a statement made by the Marquis d'Avèze, that in the year V of the Republic, 1797, that gentleman was requested by the Minister of the Interior to undertake the office of Commissioner to the Manufactures of the Gobelins (tapestries), of Sèvres (china) and of Savonnerie (carpets). On visiting these establishments, the marquis found the workshops deserted; for the artisans had been in a starving condition for two years, while the warehouses were full of the results of their labours, and no commercial enterprise came to relieve the general embarassment. It then occurred to the marquis that if these and other objects of industry of the national manufactures could be collected together in one large exhibition, a stimulous might be given to the native industry, and thus relief be afforded to the suffering workmen. The plan was approved by M. François de Neufchateau, the Minister of the Interior, and the chateau of St. Cloud was appropriated for the purpose.'In a few days the walls of every apartment in the castle were hung with the finest Gobelin tapestry; the floors covered with the superb carpets of the Savonnerie, which long rivalled the carpets of Turkey, and latterly have far surpassed them; the large and beautiful vases, the magnificent groups, and the exquisition pictures of Sèvres china, enriched these saloons, already glowing the chefs d'oeuvre of Gobelins and the Savonnerie. The Chamber of Mars was converted into a receptacle for porcelain, where might be seen the most beautiful services of every kind, vases for flowers,—in short, all the tasteful varieties which are originated by this incomparable manufacture.' The 18th Fructidor was the day fixed for public admission, but previous to that time a number of distinguished persons in Paris and many foreingers visited the Exposition, and made purchases sufficient to afford a distribution to the workmen, whereby some temporary relief was afforded to their necessities. But on the very morning of the 18th, the walls of the city were placarded with the decree of the Directory for the expulsion of the nobility. The chateau of St. Cloud was given into the custody of a comapny of dragoons, the Marquis d'Avèze was in the proscribed list, and thus ended the scheme which had promised so well.

"Early in the following year, however (1798,) on his return from proscription to Paris, the marquis resumed his labours. The palace selected for the Exposition was the Maison d'Orsay, Rue de Varennes, No. 667. The objects collected consisted of rich furniture and marqueterie by Boule, Riessner, and Jacob; clocks and watches by L'Epine and Leroy; porcelain and china from the manufactories of Sèvres, of Angoulême and of Nast; richly bound books; silks of Lyons; historical pictures by Vincent, David, and Suvé; landscapes by Hue and Valenienne, flowers by Vandael, and Van Pankouck; and many other objects of an equally luxurious and aristocratic character; all tending to prove that in banishing the aristocracy from Paris, the Government had banished the chief patrons of French manufacture. The Exposition was exceedingly attractive and successful, and the Government accordingly determined to adopt the idea and carry it out on a grand scale. An admirable opportunity was afforded on the return of Napoleon from the successful termination of the Italian wars. On the same spot in the Champ de Mars on which the army had celebrated the inauguration of the collection of Italian spoils, and only six weeks after that fête, the nation erected the 'Temple of Industry,' around which were arranged sixty porticoes filled with objects of use or of beauty. The Exhibition remained open only during the last three complimentary days of the year VI, of the Republic; but it excited the greatest enthusiasm throughout the country. The merits of the several exhibitors were entrusted to the decison of a jury composed of nine men, distinguished in science and in art; and this plan was found to work so well, that it was continued  in subsequent Expositions, the only change being to increase the number of jurors. The names of some of the manufacturers in the prize list are of European reputation; as for example, that of Breguet, connected with the progress of watch and clock making in France, Lenoir, the inventor and maker of mathematical instruments; Didot and Herhan, who so greatly improved the art of printing; Dilh and Guerhard, whose manufacture of painted china rivalled that of Sèvres, Conté, celebrated as a mechanist and engineer, who first applied machine-ruling to engraving; Clouet and Payen, so well known for their chemicals; and Denys du Luat, among whose cotton yarns were some of the extraordinary finess of No. 110" (Tomlinson, Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts I, ii-iii)

Charles B. Wood III, Fairs & Expositions. Catalogue 144 (2010) No. 6, with illustration of the title page of the second issue.

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1800 – 1850

By this Stage in the Industrial Revolution All Phases of Cloth Production Are Performed by Machines Circa 1800

At this stage in the Industrial Revolution, around 1800, all phases of cloth production were performed by machines. 

"Mechanized cotton spinning powered by steam or water increased the output of a worker by a factor of about 1000. The power loom increased the output of a worker by a factor of over 40. Large gains in productivity also occurred in spinning and weaving of wool and linen, but they were not as great as in cotton."

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Foundation of the First Business School December 1, 1819

Established on December 1, 1819, l'Ecole Spéciale de Commerce et d’Industrie (now ESCP Europe) was the first business school. It was founded in Paris by a group of economic scholars and businessmen, including the economist Jean-Baptiste Say, who held the first Chair of Economics, and the trader Vital Roux. The school was patterned after the École Polytechnique founded by politician, engineer and mathematician Lazare Carnot and mathematician Gaspard Monge, but was much more modest in its beginnings, mainly because it did not receive state funding. It soon was renamed Ecole Supérieure de Commerce, and gradually gained in stature and importance during the 19th century. Fifty years after its founding it was acquired by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris (CCIP), and became a government institution.

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The First Publically Subscribed Passenger Railroad September 27, 1825

On September 27, 1825 British engineer George Stephenson's Locomotion No. 1 (originally named Active), the first steam engine to carry passengers and freight on a regular basis, hawled its first train on the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR). The S&DR was the first publically subscribed passenger railroad.

"It was 26 miles (40 km) long and was built in north-eastern England between Witton Park and Stockton-on-Tees via Darlington and connected to several collieries near Shildon. Planned to carry both goods and passengers, the line was initially built to connect inland coal mines to Stockton, where coal was to be loaded onto sea-going boats. Much of its route is now served by the Tees Valley Line, operated by Northern Rail. It was also the longest railway at the time" (Wikipedia article on Stockton and Darlington Railway, accessed 02-01-2012).

About the same time as the S&DR opened for business British engineer Thomas Tredgold issued  A Practical Treatise on Rail-Roads and Carriages, Shewing the Principles of Estimating their Strength, Proportions, Expense, and Annual Produce . . . (1825), and British colliery and steam locomotive engineer Nicholas Wood issued A Practical Treatise on Rail-Roads and Interior Communication in General, with Original Experiments, and Tables of the Comparative Value of Canals and Rail-Roads (1825).  These books, both of which were published in London, were the first comprehensive works on railway engineering.

Dibner, Heralds of Science (1980) No. 182.

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The First Common Carrier Railroad in the United States July 4, 1828 – May 24, 1830

Construction of the first line on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the first common carrier railroad, carrying passengers and freight, in the United States, began on July 4, 1828. The first section, from Baltimore west to Ellicott's Mills (now known as Ellicott City), opened on May 24, 1830.

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Foundation of the First Parcel Express Agency in the U.S. 1839

"The first parcel express agency in the United States is generally considered to have been started by William Harriden, who in 1839 began regular trips between New York City and Boston, Massachusetts as a courier transporting small parcels, currency and other valuables" (Wikipedia article on Railway Express Agency, accessed 11-07-2013). 

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1850 – 1875

Montgomery Ward Issues the First General Merchandise Mail Order Catalogue August 1872

In August 1872, with two employees and a total capital of $1,600, American businessman Aaron Montgomery Ward founded Montgomery Ward & Company. From a small shipping room in Chicago Ward published the world's first general merchandise mail-order catalog, a single 8 x 12 inch price list showing 163 products for sale with ordering instructions. 

"Ward had conceived of the idea of a dry goods mail-order business in Chicago, Illinois, after several years of working as a traveling salesman among rural customers. He observed that rural customers often wanted 'city' goods but their only access to them was through rural retailers who had little competition and offered no guarantee of quality. Ward also believed that by eliminating intermediaries, he could cut costs and make a wide variety of goods available to rural customers, who could purchase goods by mail and pick them up at the nearest train station.

"After several false starts, including the destruction of his first inventory by the Great Chicago Fire, Ward started his business at his first office, either in a single room at 825 North Clark Street, or in a loft above a livery stable on Kinzie Street between Rush and State Streets. He had two partners and used $1,600 they had raised in capital. The first catalog in August 1872 consisted of an 8 by 12 in. single-sheet price list, showing 163 articles for sale with ordering instructions. Ward wrote the first catalog copy. His two partners left the following year, but he continued the struggling business and was joined by his future brother-in-law Richard Thorne.

"In the first few years, the business was not well received by rural retailers. Considering Ward a threat, they sometimes publicly burned his catalog. Despite the opposition, however, the business grew at a fast pace over the next several decades, fueled by demand primarily from rural customers who were attracted by the wide selection of items unavailable to them locally. Customers were also attracted by the innovative and unprecedented company policy of 'satisfaction guaranteed or your money back', which Ward began using in 1875" (Wikipedia article on Montgomery Ward, accessed 11-07-2013). 

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"Circular Notes", a Precursor of Traveler's Cheques, are Introduced 1874

Circular note, launched in 1874 by Thomas Cook. 

No higher resolution image available at this time.

Thomas Cook.

English travel agent Thomas Cook introduced "circular notes." This financial product became much better known through the American Express brand of traveler's cheques which were introduced in 1891.

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1875 – 1900

Foundation of International Parcel Post Service 1878 – 1896

"The term "parcel post" refers to the sending of packages through the mail service. In 1878, the Congress of the Universal Postal Union established an international parcel post system. Four years later, the British parliament approved a bill implementing domestic, colonial and foreign parcel post services. Other countries quickly followed suit. The US Post Office Department agreed to deliver parcels sent into the country but refused to institute a domestic service.

"In the late 1800's, the National Grange and similar organizations concerned with farmers' welfare lobbied Congress for the free delivery of mail to rural households. Many rural residents had to travel for days to retrieve their mail from distant post offices or pay private express companies for delivery. Finally, in October 1896, Congress approved the establishment of rural free delivery. It was a heady taste of life for rural Americans and soon increased the demand for delivery of packages containing foodstuffs, dry goods, drugs, tobacco and other commodities not easily available to farmers.

"Private express companies and rural retail merchants fought tenaciously against parcel post but rural residents comprised 54 percent of the country's population and they were equally vociferous. While the question was still being debated in Congress, one of the major express companies declared a large stockholder dividend. Public indignation at the exorbitant profits spurred Congress to resolve the issue quickly" (http://www.sil.si.edu/ondisplay/parcelpost/intro.htm, accessed 11-07-2013).

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Foundation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average May 26, 1896

On May 26, 1896 Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company founder Charles Henry Dow founded the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This represented the dollar average of twelve stocks from leading American industries.

"Previously in 1884, Dow had composed an initial stock average called the Dow Jones Averages, which contained nine railroads and two industrial companies that appeared in the Customer's Afternoon Letter, a daily two-page financial news bulletin which was the precursor to The Wall Street Journal. The original group of 12 stocks ultimately chosen to form the Dow Jones Industrial Average did not contain any railroad stocks, but purely industrial stocks. Of these, only General Electric currently remains part of that index.

"The other 11 were:

"American Cotton Oil Company, a predecessor company to Bestfoods, now part of Unilever.

"American Sugar Company, became Domino Sugar in 1900, now Domino Foods, Inc.

"American Tobacco Company, broken up in a 1911 antitrust action.

"Chicago Gas Company, bought by Peoples Gas Light in 1897, now an operating subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group.

"Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company, now Millennium Chemicals, formerly a division of LyondellBasell, the latter of which recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"Laclede Gas Company, still in operation as the Laclede Group, Inc., removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1899.

"National Lead Company, now NL Industries, removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1916.

"North American Company, an electric utility holding company, broken up by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1946.

"Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in Birmingham, Alabama, bought by U.S. Steel in 1907; U.S. Steel was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1991.

"U.S. Leather Company, dissolved in 1952.

"United States Rubber Company, changed its name to Uniroyal in 1961, merged with private B.F. Goodrich in 1986, bought by Michelin in 1990.

"When it was first published in the late 1890s, the index stood at a level of 40.94, but ended up hitting its all-time low of 28.48 during the summer of 1896 during the depths of what later became known as the Panic of 1896" (Wikipedia article on Dow Jones Industrial Average, accessed 01-11-2013).

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The First Automobile Assembly Line August 21, 1897 – 1901

On August 21, 1897 Ransom E. Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan.  In 1899 copper and lumber magnate Samuel L. Smith bought Olds' company and renamed it Olds Motor Works. The new company was relocated from Lansing to Detroit, and Smith became President while Olds became vice president and general manager. 

In 1901 Olds designed and introduced the Curved Dash Oldsmobile.  Selling for $650, this was the first high-volume, mass-produced, low-priced American motor vehicle, produced on the first assembly line, a development of immense consequence which Olds patented. Although the factory was destroyed by fire that year, the company still sold over 600 models of the Curved Dash. The assembly line approach to building automobiles enabled Olds to more than quintuple his factory’s output, from 425 cars in 1901 to 2,500 in 1902, to up to 5000 units in 1904.

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1900 – 1910

Henry Ford Sponsors Improvements in the Automotive Assembly Line 1908 – December 1, 1913

In 1908 American industrialist Henry Ford began development of the assembly line for the Ford Model T. The line became operational in Detroit on December 1, 1913, and fully operational in 1915. Contrary to popular mythology, Ford did not invent the automotive assembly line. That was accomplished by Ransom E. Olds in 1901. (Examples of assembly line production have survived from as early as 215-210 BCE.)

"Despite oversimplistic attempts to attribute it to one man or another, it [Ford's Model T assembly line] was in fact a composite development based on logic that took 7 years and plenty of intelligent men. The principal leaders are discussed below. The basic kernel of an assembly line concept was introduced to Ford Motor Company by William "Pa" Klann upon his return from visiting a Chicago slaughterhouse and viewing what was referred to as the 'disassembly line', where animals were butchered as they moved along a conveyor. The efficiency of one person removing the same piece over and over caught his attention. He reported the idea to Peter E. Martin, soon to be head of Ford production, who was doubtful at the time but encouraged him to proceed. Others at Ford have claimed to have put the idea forth to Henry Ford, but Pa Klann's slaughterhouse revelation is well documented in the archives at the Henry Ford Museum and elsewhere, making him an important contributor to the modern automated assembly line concept. The process was an evolution by trial and error of a team consisting primarily of Peter E. Martin, the factory superintendent; Charles E. Sorensen, Martin's assistant; C. Harold Wills, draftsman and toolmaker; Clarence W. Avery; Charles Ebender; and József Galamb. Some of the groundwork for such development had recently been laid by the intelligent layout of machine tool placement that Walter Flanders had been doing at Ford up to 1908.

"In 1922 Ford (via his ghostwriter Crowther) said of his 1913 assembly line:

'I believe that this was the first moving line ever installed. The idea came in a general way from the overhead trolley that the Chicago packers use in dressing beef.'

Charles E. Sorensen, in his 1956 memoir My Forty Years with Ford, presented a different version of development that was not so much about individual 'inventors' as a gradual, logical development of industrial engineering:

" 'What was worked out at Ford was the practice of moving the work from one worker to another until it became a complete unit, then arranging the flow of these units at the right time and the right place to a moving final assembly line from which came a finished product. Regardless of earlier uses of some of these principles, the direct line of succession of mass production and its intensification into automation stems directly from what we worked out at Ford Motor Company between 1908 and 1913. Henry Ford is generally regarded as the father of mass production. He was not. He was the sponsor of it.'

As a result of these developments in method, Ford's cars came off the line in three minute intervals. This was much faster than previous methods, increasing production by eight to one (requiring 12.5 man-hours before, 1 hour 33 minutes after), while using less manpower. It was so successful, paint became a bottleneck. Only japan black would dry fast enough, forcing the company to drop the variety of colors available before 1914, until fast-drying Duco lacquer was developed in 1926. In 1914, an assembly line worker could buy a Model T with four months' pay.

"The assembly line technique was an integral part of the diffusion of the automobile into American society. Decreased costs of production allowed the cost of the Model T to drop within the budget of the American middle class. In 1908, the price of a Model T was around $825, and by 1912 it had dropped to around $575. This price reduction is comparable to a drop from $15,000 to $10,000 in dollar terms from the year 2000" (Wikipedia article on Assembly Line, accessed 02-16-2012).

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1910 – 1920

The U. S. Post Office Begins Parcel Post Service January 1, 1913

"The service began on January 1, 1913. And begin it did. At the stroke of midnight Postmaster Edward M. Morgan in New York City and Postmaster General Hitchcock dropped packages addressed to each other into the mail, racing to be the first to use the service. They were not alone in looking to create a “first” out of the new service. These cups were the first objects officially mailed under the new service. But the first package to be delivered was 11 pounds of apples sent to New Jersey governor (and President-Elect) Woodrow Wilson. The Woodrow Wilson Club of Princeton deposited the apples at a local post office at precisely 12:01 a.m. By prearrangement, the carrier assigned to normally deliver the governor’s mail, David Gransom, received the parcel “before the cancelling ink was dry” and set off “driving furiously down the muddy street for the president elect’s home.” He delivered the apples to the waiting Wilson at 12:04 a.m. Wilson met Gransom at the door, signed for the package, and presented the carrier with the pencil" (http://www.npm.si.edu/parcelpost100/p3.html, accessed 11-07-2013).

"Parcel post service began on January 1, 1913 and was an instant success. During the first five days of service, 1,594 post offices reported handling over 4 million parcel post packages. The effect on the national economy was electric. Marketing through parcel post gave rise to great mail-order businesses. In addition, parcel post created an immediate demand for special packaging suitable for mailing the wide array of commodities considered deliverable under the system" (http://www.sil.si.edu/ondisplay/parcelpost/intro.htm, accessed 11-07-2013).

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Foundation of Barnes & Noble 1917

In 1917 Wlliam Barnes and G. Clifford Noble opened the first Barnes and Noble book store in Manhattan.

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1920 – 1930

The First Suburban Shopping Center Designed for Shoppers Arriving by Automobile 1923

In 1923 American real estate developer J. C. Nichols built the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Designed architectually after Seville, Spain, it was the first suburban shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. In 2013 the Country Club District, which Nichols developed around the shopping center, was the largest contiguous master-planned community in the United States.

Nichols "called his method 'planning for permanence,' for his objective was to 'develop whole residential neighborhoods that would attract an element of people who desired a better way of life, a nicer place to live and would be willing to work in order to keep it better.' Nichols invented the percentage lease, where rents are based tenants' gross receipts. The percentage lease is now a standard practice in commercial leasing across the United States" (Wikipedia article on J C Nichols, accessed 04-05-2009).

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Foundation of Public Relations 1923

In 1923 Edward L. Bernays, founder of the public relations industry and double nephew of Sigmund Freud, published Crystallizing Public Opinion in New York through Boni & Liveright. 

Bernays combined the ideas of French sociologist Gustave Le Bon, originator of crowd psychology, with the psychoanalytic ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud , and those of British surgeon and social psychologist Wilfred Trotter, who promoted similar ideas in the anglophone world in his book Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War.

"Trotter, who was a head and neck surgeon at University College Hospital, London, read Freud's works, and it was he who introduced Wilfred Bion, whom he lived and worked with, to Freud's ideas. When Freud fled Vienna for London after the Anschluss, Trotter became his personal physician, and Wilfred Bion and Ernest Jones became key members of the Freudian psychoanalysis movement in England, and would develop the field of Group Dynamics, largely associated with the Tavistock Institute where many of Freud's followers worked. Thus ideas of group psychology and psychoanalysis came together in London around World War II.

"Bernays' public relations efforts helped to popularize Freud's theories in the United States. Bernays also pioneered the PR industry's use of psychology and other social sciences to design its public persuasion campaigns:

"If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits." He called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the 'engineering of consent'" (Wikipedia article on Edward Bernays, accessed 02-17-2012).

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1930 – 1940

Statistical Quality Control in Manufacturing is Conceptualized and Introduced by Shewhart and Deming April 1930 – 1950

"Economic Quality Control of Manufactured Product, published by American physicist, engineer and statistician Walter Andrew Shewhart of Bell Labs in "Bell System Technical Journal IX, No. 2 (April, 1930) 364-89, and its expansion in book form entitled Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product issued by Shewhart in 1931, represent the first publications on statistical quality control in manufacturing. 

"Shewhart framed the problem in terms of assignable-cause and chance-cause variation and introduced the control chart as a tool for distinguishing between the two. Shewhart stressed that bringing a production process into a state of statistical control, where there is only chance-cause variation, and keeping it in control, is necessary to predict future output and to manage a process economically. Dr. Shewhart created the basis for the control chart and the concept of a state of statistical control by carefully designed experiments. While Dr. Shewhart drew from pure mathematical statistical theories, he understood data from physical processes never produce a 'normal distribution curve' (a Gaussian distribution, also commonly referred to as a 'bell curve'). He discovered that observed variation in manufacturing data did not always behave the same way as data in nature (Brownian motion of particles). Dr. Shewhart concluded that while every process displays variation, some processes display controlled variation that is natural to the process, while others display uncontrolled variation that is not present in the process causal system at all times" (Wikipedia article on Walter A. Shewhart, accessed 01-08-2013). 

In 1939 Shewhart issued Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control . . . With the editorial assistance of W. Edwards Deming. Strangely the book was published in Washington, D.C. by The Graduate School of the Department of Agriculture.  Shewhart and Deming's book was the first work to extend the principles of statistical quality control in industry to the wider realms of science and statistical inference. Shewhart “extended the applications of statistical process control to the measurement processes of science, and stressed the importance of operational definitions of basic quantities in science, industry and commerce . . . [Statistical Method] has profoundly influenced statistical methods of research in the behavioral, biological, and physical sciences, and in engineering” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).

Shewhart’s long and fruitful collaboration with the physicist, statistician and consultant W. Edwards Deming began in 1938. It involved work on productivity during World War II and Deming’s championship of Shewhart’s ideas in Japan from 1950 onwards, which was “the catalyst that gave birth to Japan’s industrial efficiency and emphasis on highest attainable quality of manufactured products” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). Only after Japan successfully adopted Deming's ideas, and set higher standards for manufacturing, did competition motivate American manufacturers to aggressively implement statistical quality control in the United States.

In July 2014 a 21-minute radio interview with Deming was available from the Internet Archive at this link. Thanks to John F. Ptak for this reference.

(This entry was last revised on 07-03-2014).

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Allen Lane & Penguin Books Invent the Mass-Market Paperback July 30, 1935

In 1935 Allen Lane founded Penguin Books in London to bring high quality, paperback fiction and non-fiction to the mass market. Lane is credited with essentially inventing the mass marketing of paperbacks. According to company legend, Lane got his idea while standing in a railway station in Devon, where he had been spending the weekend with the mystery writer Agatha Christie and her husband. He couldn’t find anything worthwhile to buy to read on the train back to London. So he launched Penguin Books, with ten titles, including The Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie. The books sold well right from the start.  

The key to Lane’s innovation was not the format; it was the method of distribution. Lane designed the mass-market paperback to be displayed in wire racks that could be conveniently placed in virtually any retail space. People who didn’t have a local bookstore, and even people who would never have ventured into a bookstore, could now browse the racks while filling a prescription or waiting for a train and buy a book on impulse. Lane believed that his books should not cost more than a pack of cigarettes. This meant that people could spot a book they had always meant to read, or a book with an enticing cover, and pay for it with spare change.

"Anecdotally Lane recounted how it was his experience of the poor quality of reading material on offer at Exeter train station that inspired him to create cheap, well designed quality books for the mass market. Though the publication of literature in paperback was then associated mainly with poor quality, lurid fiction the Penguin brand owed something to the short lived Albatross imprint of British and American reprints that briefly traded in 1932. Inexpensive paperbacks did not initially appear viable to Bodley Head, since the deliberately low price of 6d. made profitability seem unlikely. This helped Allen Lane purchase publication rights for some works more cheaply than he otherwise might have done since other publishers were convinced of the short term prospects of the business. In the face of resistance from the traditional book trade it was the purchase of 63,000 books by Woolworth that paid for the project outright, confirmed its worth and allowed Lane to establish Penguin as a separate business in 1936. By March 1936, ten months after the company's launch on 30 July 1935, one million Penguin books had been printed (Wiklipedia article on Penguin Books, accessed 07-11-2013).

In 1985, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company, Penguin Books issued a boxed set reproducing in facsimile the first ten titles issued in 1935.

(This entry was last revised on 01-01-2015.)

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1950 – 1960

"Diners Club", the First Credit Card February 1950

Early Diners' Club card.

Early advertisement for Diners' Club card.

In February 1950 the Diners Club issued the first "general purpose" credit card, invented by Diners Club founder Frank X. McNamara. The card allowed members to charge the cost of restaurant bills only.

"The first credit card charge was made on February 8, 1950, by Frank McNamara, Ralph Schneider and Matty Simmons at Major's Cabin Grill, a restaurant adjacent to their offices in the Empire State Building" (Wikipedia article on Diners Club International, accessed 02-28-2012).

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Bertram V. Bowden, the First Computer Salesman in England July 9 – July 12, 1951

Bertram V. Bowden, the first computer salesman in England, discussed “The application of calculating machines to business and commerce” at the second English electronic computer conference held at the University of Manchester from July 9-12, 1951. (See Reading 10.2.)

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First Stored-Program Computer to Run Business Programs on a Routine Basis November 17, 1951

On November 17, 1951 LEO I (Lyons Electronic Office) ran a program to "evaluate costs, prices and margins of that week's baked output" at tea shop operator J. Lyons and Company in England. The LEO adaptation of the EDSAC was the first stored-program electronic computer to run business programs on a routine basis. “LEO’s early success owed less to its hardware than to its highly innovative systems-oriented approach to programming, devised and led by David Caminer.”

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The First Report on the Application of Electronic Computers to Business June 1953

In June 1953 Richard W. Appel and other students at Harvard Business school issued Electronic Business Mchines: A New Tool for Management.

This was the first report on the application of electronic computers to business. The report was issued before any electronic computer was delivered to an American corporation. (See Reading 10.4.)

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BankAmericard is Launched September 1958

BankAmerica card.

In September 1958 Bank of America, then headquartered in San Francisco, created the BankAmericard, the first credit card issued by a conventional bank. Together with its overseas affiliates, this product eventually evolved into the Visa system.

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The American Express Card October 1, 1958

On October 1, 1958 American Express launched the American Express card. Because American Express previously had an international network of offices in place, and their traveler's' cheques had been accepted throughout the world for decades, this was the first credit card accepted internationally. 

". . . public interest had become so significant that they issued 250,000 cards prior to the official launch date. The card was launched with an annual fee of $6, $1 higher than Diners Club, to be seen as a premium product. The first cards were paper, with the account number and cardmember's name typed. It was not until 1959 that American Express began issuing embossed ISO 7810 plastic cards, an industry first" (Wikipedia article on American Express, accessed 12-27-2008).

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1960 – 1970

The NY Stock Exchange Completes Automation of Trading 1966

In 1966 The New York Stock Exchange completed automation of its basic trading functions.

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The First ATM is Installed at Chemical Bank in New York Circa 1969 – 1970

In 1969 or 1970 the first automatic teller machine (ATM) was installed. Dates conflict as to whether this was in 1969 or slightly later. The first machine installed at Chemical Bank in New York may have been only a cash dispenser.

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1970 – 1980

An Antitrust Suit to Break up AT&T November 20, 1974

On November 20, 1974 the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit for the breakup of American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), alleging anticompetitive behavior.

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Barnes & Noble Becomes the First American Bookseller to Discount New Books 1975

In 1975 the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain, purchased by Leonard Riggio in 1971,  became the first bookseller in America to discount new books, by selling New York Times best-selling titles at 40% off the publishers’ list price.

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The Antitrust Case, U.S. v. IBM, is Tried and Eventually Withdrawn May 19, 1975 – January 8, 1982

On May 19, 1975 the Federal Government’s antitrust suit against IBM went to trial. The complaint for the case U.S. v. IBM had been filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York on January 17, 1969 by the Justice Department. The suit alleged that IBM violated the Section 2 of the Sherman Act by monopolizing or attempting to monopolize the general purpose electronic digital computer system market, specifically computers designed primarily for business.

After thousands of hours of testimony (testimony of over 950 witnesses, 87 in court, the remainder by deposition), and the submission of tens of thousands of exhibits, on January 8, 1982 the anti-trust case U.S. v. IBM was withdrawn on the grounds that the case was "without merit."

30,000,000 pages of documents were generated in the course of this anti-trust case.

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The First Intentional Spam May 1, 1977

On May 1, 1977 Gary Thuerk, a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) sales representative, attempted to send the first intentional commercial spam to every ARPANET address on the West Coast of the U.S. Thuerek thought that Arpanet users would find it cool that DEC had integrated ARPANET protocol support directly into the new DECSYSTEM-20 and TOPS-20 OS.

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The Minitel 1978 – June 30, 2012

Rolled out experimentally in 1978 in Brittany, and throughout France in 1982 by PTT (Poste, Téléphone et Télécommunications), the Minitel was a Videotex online service accessible through telephone lines.  In 1991 PTT was divided into France Télécom and La Poste, with the Minitel operated by France Télécom. Users of the Minitel could make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and chat in a way similar to the Internet.

"Millions of terminals were lent for free to telephone subscribers, resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public. In exchange for the terminal, the possessors of Minitel would not be given free 'white page' printed directories (alphabetical list of residents and firms), but only the yellow pages (classified commercial listings, with advertisements); the white pages were accessible for free on Minitel, and they could be searched by a reasonably intelligent search engine; much faster than flipping through a paper directory.

"France Télécom estimates that almost 9 million terminals—including web-enabled personal computers (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux)—had access to the network at the end of 1999, and that it was used by 25 million people (of a total population of 60 million). Developed by 10,000 companies, in 1996, almost 26,000 different services were available" (Wikipedia article in Minitel, accessed 07-11-2012).

Though usage was concentrated in France, the Minitel had a significant level of usage primarily in other European countries. The service was introduced in the United States very late, in 1993, by which time it faced serious competition from early Internet providers such as AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe.  The Minitel service was finally shut down by France Télécom on June 30, 2012.

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1990 – 2000

eBay is Founded September 3, 1995

On September 3, 1995 French-born Iranian-American computer programmer Pierre M. Omidyar founded eBay in San Jose, California, as a sole proprietorship. Initially he conducted auctions under the name AuctionWeb, and advertised items for auction on USENET.

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2000 – 2005

"Weapons of Financial Mass Destruction"? December 14 – December 21, 2000

Credit Default Swaps, invented in 1997 by a team working for JPMorgan Chase, became legal, and illegal to regulate, with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.

The Senate and House versions of this bill were introduced and rushed through congress on the last day before the Christmas holiday. The 11,000-page bill was never debated in the House or the Senate. Less than a week after it was passed by congress, President Clinton signed it into Public Law (106-554) on December 21, 2000. (adapted from the Wikipedia article on Credit Default Swap).

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2010 – 2012

Borders Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy & Closes the Last of its Bookstores February 16 – September 18, 2011

In February 2011 Borders, the second largest brick and mortar bookstore chain in the United States, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. Borders' stock closed at 25 cents on February 12, 2011, reflecting expectations that the chain could be liquidated. The company was unable to compete adequately against Internet booksellers led by Amazon.com, or against the leading brick and mortar chain, Barnes and Noble. By September 18, 2011 Borders closed the last of its more than 1200 bookstores across the United States. This was reflective of a larger trend of brick and mortar bookstore closures, in which more than a thousand American bookstores closed between 2000 and 2007.

"Sales at Borders declined by double-digit percentage rates in 2008, 2009 and in each quarter in 2010 it has reported.

"Borders, which has 6,100 full time staff, operates 508 namesake superstores as well as a chain of smaller Waldenbooks stores.

"The company said it would close about 30 percent of its stores in the next several weeks and plans to continue to pay its employees.

"Borders' largest unsecured creditors include major publishers that provide the books it sells. Borders owes Pearson PLC's Penguin $41.2 million, Hachette Book Group USA $36.9 million, and CBS's Simon & Schuster $33.8 million, according to court documents.

"The case is In re: Borders Group Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No: 11-10614" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/borders-files-for-bankruptcy_n_823889.html?. accessed 11-16-2011).

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Walmart Buys Kosmix.com, Forming @WalmartLabs April 18, 2011

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, agreed to buy Kosmix.com, a social media start-up focused on ecommerce, creating @WalmartLabs.

"Eric Schmidt famously observed that every two days now, we create as much data as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003. A lot of the new data is not locked away in enterprise databases, but is freely available to the world in the form of social media: status updates, tweets, blogs, and videos.

"At Kosmix, we’ve been building a platform, called the Social Genome, to organize this data deluge by adding a layer of semantic understanding. Conversations in social media revolve around 'social elements' such as people, places, topics, products, and events. For example, when I tweet 'Loved Angelina Jolie in Salt,' the tweet connects me (a user) to Angelia Jolie (an actress) and SALT (a movie). By analyzing the huge volume of data produced every day on social media, the Social Genome builds rich profiles of users, topics, products, places, and events. The Social Genome platform powers the sites Kosmix operates today: TweetBeat, a real-time social media filter for live events; Kosmix.com, a site to discover content by topic; and RightHealth, one of the top three health and medical information sites by global reach. In March, these properties together served over 17.5 million unique visitors worldwide, who spent over 5.5 billion seconds on our services.

"Quite a few of us at Kosmix have backgrounds in ecommerce, having worked at companies such as Amazon.com and eBay. As we worked on the Social Genome platform, it became apparent to us that this platform could transform ecommerce by providing an unprecedented level of understanding about customers and products, going well beyond purchase data. The Social Genome enables us to take search, personalization and recommendations to the next level.

"That’s why we were so excited when Walmart invited us to share with them our vision for the future of retailing. Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, with 10.5 billion customer visits every year to their stores and 1.5 billion online – 1 in 10 customers around the world shop Walmart online, and that proportion is growing. More and more visitors to the retail stores are armed with powerful mobile phones, which they use both to discover products and to connect with their friends and with the world. It was very soon apparent that the Walmart leadership shared our vision and our enthusiasm. And so @WalmartLabs was born. . . .

"We are at an inflection point in the development of ecommerce. The first generation of ecommerce was about bringing the store to the web. The next generation will be about building integrated experiences that leverage the store, the web, and mobile, with social identity being the glue that binds the experience. Walmart’s enormous global reach and incredible scale of operations -- from the United States and Europe to growing markets like China and India -- is unprecedented. @WalmartLabs, which combines Walmart’s scale with Kosmix’s social genome platform, is in a unique position to invent and build this future" (http://walmartlabs.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2011-11-30T21:01:00-08:00&max-results=7, accessed 01-20-2012).

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McKinsey Report on the Impact of the Internet on Growth, Jobs, and Prosperity May 2011

 McKinsey research into the Internet economies of the G-8 nations as well as Brazil, China, India, South Korea, and Sweden found that the web accounted for a significant and growing portion of global GDP. If measured as a sector, Internet-related consumption and expenditure were bigger than agriculture or energy. On average, the Internet contributed 3.4 percent to GDP in the 13 countries covered by the research—an amount the size of Spain or Canada in terms of GDP, and growing at a faster rate than that of Brazil.

"Research prepared by the McKinsey Global Institute and McKinsey's Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practices as part of a knowledge partnership with the e-G8 Forum, offers the first quantitative assessment of the impact of the Internet on GDP and growth, while also considering the most relevant tools governments and businesses can use to get the most benefit from the digital transformation. To assess the Internet's contribution to the global economy, the report analyzes two primary sources of value: consumption and supply. The report draws on a macroeconomic approach used in national accounts to calculate the contribution of GDP; a statistical econometric approach; and a microeconomic approach, analyzing the results of a survey of 4,800 small and medium-size enterprises in a number of different countries.  

"The Internet's impact on global growth is rising rapidly. The Internet accounted for 21 percent of GDP growth over the last five years among the developed countries MGI studied, a sharp acceleration from the 10 percent contribution over 15 years. Most of the economic value created by the Internet falls outside of the technology sector, with 75 percent of the benefits captured by companies in more traditional industries. The Internet is also a catalyst for job creation. Among 4,800 small and medium-size enterprises surveyed, the Internet created 2.6 jobs for each lost to technology-related efficiencies.

"The United States is the largest player in the global Internet supply ecosystem, capturing more than 30 percent of global Internet revenues and more than 40 percent of net income. It is also the country with the most balanced structure within the global ecosystem among the 13 countries studied, garnering relatively equal contributions from hardware, software and services, and telecommunications. The United Kingdom and Sweden are changing the game, in part driven by the importance and the performance of their telecom operators. India and China are strengthening their position in the global Internet ecosystem rapidly with growth rates of more than 20 percent. France, Canada, and Germany have an opportunity to leverage their strong Internet usage to increase their presence in the supply ecosystem. Other Asian countries are rapidly accelerating their influence on the Internet economy at faster rates than Japan. Brazil, Russia and Italy are in the early stages of Internet supply. They have strong potential for growth" (http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/MGI/Research/Technology_and_Innovation/Internet_matters, accessed 01-19-2012).

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2012 – 2016

Technological Unemployment: Are Robots Replacing Workers? January 23, 2012 – January 13, 2013

On January 23, 2012 Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of MIT issued Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy

Drawing on research by their team at the Center for Digital Business at MIT, the authors show that digital technologies are rapidly encroaching on skills that used to belong to humans alone.

"This phenomenon is both broad and deep, and has profound economic implications. Many of these implications are positive; digital innovation increases productivity, reduces prices (sometimes to zero), and grows the overall economic pie.

"But digital innovation has also changed how the economic pie is distributed, and here the news is not good for the median worker. As technology races ahead, it can leave many people behind. Workers whose skills have been mastered by computers have less to offer the job market, and see their wages and prospects shrink. Entrepreneurial business models, new organizational structures and different institutions are needed to ensure that the average worker is not left behind by cutting-edge machines.

"In Race Against the Machine Brynjolfsson and McAfee bring together a range of statistics, examples, and arguments to show that technological progress is accelerating, and that this trend has deep consequences for skills, wages, and jobs. The book makes the case that employment prospects are grim for many today not because there's been technology has stagnated, but instead because we humans and our organizations aren't keeping up."

About a year later, on January 13, 2013, CBS television's 60 Minutes broadcast a report on automation in the workplace taking the viewpoint expressed in Brynjolfsson and McAfee's book entitled "Are robots hurting job growth?" (accessed 01-27-2013).

Following up on the issue, on January 23, 2013 John Markoff published an article in The New York Times entitled "Robot Makers Spread Global Gospel of Automation." Markoff reported that Henrik I. Christensen, the Kuka Chair of Robotics at Georgia Institue of Technology's College of Computing was highly critical of the 60 Minutes report.

"During his talk, Dr. Christensen said that the evidence indicated that the opposite was true. While automation may transform the work force and eliminate certain jobs, it also creates new kinds of jobs that are generally better paying and that require higher-skilled workers.

" 'We see today that the U.S. is still the biggest manufacturing country in terms of dollar value,' Dr. Christensen said. 'It’s also important to remember that manufacturing produces more jobs in associated areas than anything else.'

"An official of the International Federation of Robotics acknowledged that the automation debate had sprung back to life in the United States, but he said that America was alone in its anxiety over robots and automation.

 'This is not happening in either Europe or Japan,' said Andreas Bauer, chairman of the federation’s industrial robot suppliers group and an executive at Kuka Robotics, a German robot maker.

"To buttress its claim that automation is not a job killer but instead a way for the United States to compete against increasingly advanced foreign competitors, the industry group reported findings on Tuesday that it said it would publish in February. The federation said the industry would directly and indirectly create from 1.9 million to 3.5 million jobs globally by 2020.

"The federation held a news media event at which two chief executives of small American manufacturers described how they had been able to both increase employment and compete against foreign companies by relying heavily on automation and robots.

“ 'Automation has allowed us to compete on a global basis. It has absolutely created jobs in southwest Michigan,' said Matt Tyler, chief executive of Vickers Engineering, an auto parts supplier. 'Had it not been for automation, we would not have beat our Japanese competitor; we would not have beat our Chinese competitor; we would not have beat our Mexican competitor. It’s a fact.'

Also making the case was Drew Greenblatt, the widely quoted president and owner of Marlin Steel, a Baltimore manufacturer of steel products that has managed to expand and add jobs by deploying robots and other machines to increase worker productivity.

“ 'In December, we won a job from a Chicago company that for over a decade has bought from China,' he said. 'It’s a sheet-metal bracket; 160,000 sheet-metal brackets, year in, year out. They were made in China, now they’re made in Baltimore, using steel from a plant in Indiana and the robot was made in Connecticut.'

"A German robotics engineer argued that automation was essential to preserve jobs and also vital to make it possible for national economies to support social programs.

“ 'Countries that have high productivity can afford to have a good social system and a good health system,' said Alexander Verl, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering in Germany. “You see that to some extent in Germany or in Sweden. These are countries that are highly automated but at the same time they spend money on elderly care and the health system.'

"In the report presented Tuesday by the federation, the United States lags Germany, South Korea and Japan in the density of manufacturing robots employed (measured as the number of robots per 10,000 human workers). South Korea, in particular, sharply increased its robot-to-worker ratio in the last three years and Germany has twice the robot density as the United States, according to a presentation made by John Dulchinos, a board member of the Robot Industries Association and the chief executive of Adept Technology, a Pleasanton, Calif., maker of robots. 

"The report indicates that although China and Brazil are increasing the number of robots in their factories, they still trail the advanced manufacturing countries.  

"Mr. Dulchinos said that the United States had only itself to blame for the decline of its manufacturing sector in the last decade.

“ 'I can tell you that in the late 1990s my company’s biggest segment was the cellular phone market,' he said. 'Almost overnight that industry went away, in part because we didn’t do as good a job as was required to make that industry competitive.'

"He said that if American robots had been more advanced it would have been possible for those companies to maintain the lowest cost of production in the United States.  

“ 'They got all packed up and shipped to China,' Mr. Dulchinos said. 'And so you fast-forward to today and there are over a billion cellphones produced a year and not a single one is produced in the United States.'

"Yet, in the face of growing anxiety about the effects of automation on the economy, there were a number of bright spots. The industry is now generating $25 billion in annual revenue. The federation expects 1.6 million robots to be produced each year by 2015."

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Online Advertising is Expected to Surpass Print Advertising, But TV Advertising Dwarfs Both October 2012

According to the October 2012 IAB Internet advertising revenue report by the Internet Advertising Bureau, a New York based international organization founded in 1996:

"In the first half of the year, U.S. Internet sites collected $17 billion in ad revenue, a 14 percent increase over the same period of 2011. . . . In the second half of last year, websites had $16.8 billion in ad revenue. So even if growth were to slow in the second half, digital media this year could exceed the $35.8 billion that U.S. print magazines and newspapers garnered in ad revenue in 2011.

"In fact, the digital marketing research firm eMarketer projects 2012 Internet ad spending in excess of $37 billion, while print advertising spending is projected to fall to $34.3 billion.

"Meanwhile, television ad spending—which Nielsen reports was nearly $75 billion in 2011—continues to dwarf both" (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429638/online-advertising-poised-to-finally-surpass/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=newsletter-daily-all&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20121017, accessed 10-22-2012).

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Book Mountain + Library Quarter in Spijkenisse, The Netherlands October 4, 2012

"rotterdam-based MVRDV has just completed the 'book mountain + library quarter' centrally located in the market square of spijkenisse, the netherlands. a mountain of bookshelves is contained by a glass-enclosed structure and pyramidal roof with an impressive total surface area of 9,300 square meters. corridors and platforms bordering the form are accessed by a network of stairs to allow visitors to browse the tiers of shelves. a continuous route of 480 meters culminates at the peak's reading room and cafe with panoramic views through the transparent roof. any possible damage caused to the books by direct sunlight is offset by the expected 4 year lifespan of borrowed materials.  

"additional functions including an environmental education center, meeting rooms, auditorium, offices and retail take place on site. taking the form of a traditional dutch farm to reference the agricultural roots of the village. the encompassing district integrates 42 social housing units, parking and public spaces to form a neighborhood. the masonry exterior of adjacent structures is introduced into the interior with brick pavers for the circulation spaces

"project info:


"total budget incl. parking: 30 million EUR

"start project: 2003

"start construction: may 2009

"opening: october 2012  

"public part library: 3500 m2

"environmental education centre: 112 m2

"chess club: 140 m2 "back office library: 370 m2  

"retail: 839 m2

"commercial offices: 510 m2

"length book shelves: 3205 m total (1565 m for lending, 1640 m archive)

"amount of books: currently 70.000 and space for another 80.000

"the cover is 26 m tall and spans 33,5 m x 47 m  

"parking: garage with grey water basin and 350 spaces //client: gemeente spijkenisse

"user: openbare bibliotheek spijkenisse, milieuhuis spijkenisse, schaaksportvereniging spijkenisse

"architect: MVRDV, rotterdam, nl" (http://www.designboom.com/architecture/mvrdv-book-mountain-library-quarter-spijkenisse/, accessed 01-14-2013).

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Google Has 67% of the U.S. Search Market and Collects 75% of U.S. Search Ad Dollars November 4, 2012

"Regulators in the United States and Europe are conducting sweeping inquiries of Google, the dominant Internet search and advertising company. Google rose by technological innovation and business acumen; in the United States, it has 67 percent of the search market and collects 75 percent of search ad dollars. Being big is no crime, but if a powerful company uses market muscle to stifle competition, that is an antitrust violation.  

"So the government is focusing on life in Google’s world for the sprawling economic ecosystem of Web sites that depend on their ranking in search results. What is it like to live this way, in a giant’s shadow? The experience of its inhabitants is nuanced and complex, a blend of admiration and fear.  

"The relationship between Google and Web sites, publishers and advertisers often seems lopsided, if not unfair. Yet Google has also provided and nurtured a landscape of opportunity. Its ecosystem generates $80 billion a year in revenue for 1.8 million businesses, Web sites and nonprofit organizations in the United States alone, it estimates.  

"The government’s scrutiny of Google is the most exhaustive investigation of a major corporation since the pursuit of Microsoft in the late 1990s" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/technology/google-casts-a-big-shadow-on-smaller-web-sites.html?hpw, accessed 11-04-2012).

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"Information Technology Dividends Outpace All Others" January 11, 2013

"For what appears to be the first time ever, information technology companies in the Standard & Poor’s index of 500 stocks are paying more in dividends than companies in any other sector, S.&P. reported this week. Multimedia

"Off the Charts: High Tech, High Dividends S.&P. Dow Jones Indices reported that in 2012 the technology sector accounted for 14.7 percent of all dividends paid to investors in the 500 companies, up from 10.3 percent in 2011 and from a little over 5 percent back in 2004. It replaced the consumer staples sector, which had been the largest payer of dividends for the previous three years.  

"The change was largely because of the decision by Apple, now the most valuable company in the world, to begin paying dividends last year. The company had been public for more than three decades before it announced plans in March to begin making payouts. Four other technology companies in the index — all but one of which had been public for more than two decades without paying a dividend — later joined in making payments to shareholders.  

"With those changes, 60 percent — 42 — of the 70 technology stocks in the index are now dividend payers. The dividends from many technology companies are relatively small, however, and of the other sectors, only health care comes close to having as large a share of companies that do not pay dividends" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/business/information-technology-dividends-surge-past-consumer-staples-sector.html, accessed 01-12-2013).

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Retail e-commerce sales expanded 15 percent in the U.S in 2012—seven times as fast as traditional retail. November 7, 2013

"Why do some stores succeed while others fail? Retailers constantly struggle with this question, battling one another in ways that change with each generation. In the late 1800s, architects ruled. Successful merchants like Marshall Field created palaces of commerce that were so gorgeous shoppers rushed to come inside. In the early 1900s, mail order became the “killer app,” with Sears Roebuck leading the way. Toward the end of the 20th century, ultra-efficient suburban discounters like Target and Walmart conquered all.

"Now the tussles are fiercest in online retailing, where it’s hard to tell if anyone is winning. Retailers as big as Walmart and as small as Tweezerman.com all maintain their own websites, catering to an explosion of customer demand. Retail e-commerce sales expanded 15 percent in the U.S in 2012—seven times as fast as traditional retail. But price competition is relentless, and profit margins are thin to nonexistent. It’s easy to regard this $186 billion market as a poisoned prize: too big to ignore, too treacherous to pursue.

"Even the most successful online retailer, Amazon.com, has a business model that leaves many people scratching their heads. Amazon is on track to ring up $75 billion in worldwide sales this year. Yet it often operates in the red; last quarter, Amazon posted a $41 million loss. Amazon’s founder and chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, is indifferent to short-term earnings, having once quipped that when the company achieved profitability for a brief stretch in 1995, “'t was probably a mistake' " (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/520801/no-stores-no-salesmen-no-profit-no-problem-for-amazon/ accessed 11-07-2013).

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The U.S. Postal Service Will Deliver Amazon Packages on Sundays November 11, 2013

In a testimony to the growing impact of e-commerce, on November 11, 2013 the U.S. Postal Service and Amazon.com announced that the Postal Service will deliver packages in the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas on Sundays—a first for the postal service, and a service not provided by private delivery companies. According to Amazon's press release, Sunday deliveries will be for Amazon Prime members, "who receive unlimited, free two-day shipping on millions of items."  Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service plan to roll out this service to a large portion of the U.S. population in 2014, including Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix.

"Getting packages on Sundays normally is expensive for customers. United Parcel Service Inc. doesn't deliver on Sundays, according to a spokeswoman. And FedEx Corp. said Sunday 'is not a regular delivery day,' though limited options are available.

"The deal could be a boon for the postal service, which has been struggling with mounting financial losses and has been pushing to limit general letter mail delivery to five days a week.

"Spokeswoman Sue Brennan said that letter mail volume is declining 'so extremely,' yet package volume is 'increasing in double-digit percentages.'

"The postal service's Sunday package delivery business has been very small, but the arrangement with Amazon for two of the retailer's larger markets, Los Angeles and New York, should boost work considerably.

"To pull off Sunday delivery for Amazon, the postal service plans to use its flexible scheduling of employees, Brennan said. It doesn't plan to add employees, she said" (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-amazon-usps-20131109,0,7390545.story?track=lat-email-topofthetimes#axzz2kLimvcy6, accessed 11-12-2013) 

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Amazon.com and UPS Envision Eventually Delivering Packages Via Drones December 1, 2013

In an interview on December 1, 2013 Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon.com, outlined how he envisioned using drones to deliver packages in as little as 30 minutes. Declaring himself an optimist, he predicted that delivery drones could be a reality in as little as five years. 

Bezos intends to be among the first to use such technology once the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes rules for commercial drones later this decade. Current regulations forbid companies from flying unmanned vehicles. 

On December 3, 2013, The Washington Post, owned by Bezos, displayed an excellent information graphic on Bezos's proposed delivery drone at this link.

On December 8, 2013 The New York Times published an article entitled "Disruptions: At Your Door in Minutes, Delivered by Robot." The article also stated that UPS (United Parcel Service) was researching the use of drones for future delivery services:

"But given the explosive growth of e-commerce, some experts say the shipping business is in for big changes. United Parcel Service, which traces its history to 1907, delivers more than four billion packages and documents a year. It operates a fleet of more than 95,000 vehicles and 500 aircraft. The ubiquitous Brown is a $55 billion-plus-a-year business. And, like Amazon, U.P.S. is reportedly looking into drones. So is Google. More and more e-commerce companies are making a point of delivering things quickly the old-fashioned way — with humans.

"Some of the dreamers in the technology industry are dreaming even bigger. It won’t be just drones, they insist. Robots and autonomous vehicles — think Google’s driverless car — could also disrupt the delivery business.

“As cities become more automated, you’re going to start to see on-demand delivery systems that look like small delivery vehicles and can bring you whatever you want to wherever you are,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and a member of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford. “Rather than go to the store to buy some milk, a robot or drone will go to a warehouse and get it for you, then deliver it.”

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eCommerce Accounts for Only About 6% of Commerce in the U.S. December 20, 2013

"And yet online commerce currently accounts for only about 6 percent of all commerce in the United States. We still buy more than 90 percent of everything we purchase offline, often by handing over money or swiping a credit card in exchange for the goods we want. But the proliferation of smartphones and tablets has increasingly led to the use of digital technology to help us make those purchases, and it’s in that convergence that eBay sees its opportunity. As Donahoe puts it: ‘‘We view it actually as and. Not online, not offline: Both.’’ 

"Most people think of eBay as an online auction house, the world’s biggest garage sale, which it has been for most of its life. But since Donahoe took over in 2008, he has slowly moved the company beyond auctions, developing technology partnerships with big retailers like Home Depot, Macy’s, Toys ‘‘R’’ Us and Target and expanding eBay’s online marketplace to include reliable, returnable goods at fixed prices. (Auctions currently represent just 30 percent of the purchases made at eBay.com; the site sells 13,000 cars a week through its mobile app alone, many at fixed prices.)

"Under Donahoe, eBay has made 34 acquisitions over the last five years, most of them to provide the company and its retail partners with enhanced technology. EBay can help with the back end of websites, create interactive storefronts in real-world locations, streamline the electronic-payment process or help monitor inventory in real time. (Outsourcing some of the digital strategy and technological operations to eBay frees up companies to focus on what they presumably do best: Make and market their own products.) In select cities, eBay has also recently introduced eBay Now, an app that allows you to order goods from participating local vendors and have them delivered to your door in about an hour for a $5 fee. The company is betting its future on the idea that its interactive technology can turn shopping into a kind of entertainment, or at least make commerce something more than simply working through price-plus-shipping calculations. If eBay can get enough people into Dick’s Sporting Goods to try out a new set of golf clubs and then get them to buy those clubs in the store, instead of from Amazon, there’s a business model there. 

"A key element of eBay’s vision of the future is the digital wallet. On a basic level, having a ‘‘digital wallet’’ means paying with your phone, but it’s about a lot more than that; it’s as much a concept as a product. EBay bought PayPal in 2002, after PayPal established itself as a safe way to transfer money between people who didn’t know each other (thus facilitating eBay purchases). For the last several years, eBay has regarded digital payments through mobile devices as having the potential to change everything — to become, as David Marcus, PayPal’s president, puts it, ‘'Money 3.0'’' (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/22/magazine/ebays-strategy-for-taking-on-amazon.html?hp&_r=0, accessed 12-20-2013). 

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