The Top 10 Innovations in document management history

To help celebrate its 10-year anniversary, US document management provider, Cintas Corporation has come up with an interesting Top 10 list of innovations in document management throughout history. The list highlights key inventions and developments that have shaped the way information is stored, organised and destroyed throughout history.

The Cintas top 10 list of key document management innovations includes:

5000 B.C.: The original “tablet” – Long before the digital tablets of today, a very different tablet was used to record and document information. As early as 5000 B.C., tablets of stone, clay or wax were inscribed with stories, scriptures and mathematical calculations. These rectangular tablets were typically the same size as a legal sheet of paper and weighed almost 12kg each.

3000 B.C.: Papyrus – Although now practically extinct, the papyrus plant was once used as the main paper source in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. As early as 3000 B.C., this sturdy plant was gathered from the banks of the Nile River and formed into rolls held together by the natural gum of the papyrus plant. The papyrus documents of ancient Pharaohs are still in existence, which demonstrates the immense durability of this natural material.

1440: Printing press – The printing press, invented by Johannes Gutenberg in a small German town in 1440, is still widely recognised as one of the most influential innovations of modern time. Through the combination of oil-based ink and metal components, Gutenberg introduced movable type to the world and consequently, the spread of knowledge.

1770: Eraser – Before the introduction of the common eraser, stones, wax and even pieces of bread were used to erase unwanted markings. It wasn’t until 1770 that English engineer Edward Nairne discovered the practical application of rubber for the removal of pencil markings. According to Nairne, he accidentally grabbed a piece of rubber instead of bread crumbs, resulting in the discovery of the eraser.
1898: Filing cabinet – Edwin Seibels found the pigeonhole filing system to be inefficient and time consuming, so he invented the first vertical filing system in 1898, which ultimately revolutionised record keeping. The vertical filing cabinet streamlined business operations allowed for easier data retrieval and increased office efficiency.

1899: Paper clip – Norwegian inventor Johan Vaaler is credited with receiving the first patent for a paper clip in 1899. The original paperclip was used to attach tickets to fabric and differed in appearance from the common office paper clip of today. The double oval shaped paper clip still in existence was originally designed by Gem Manufacturing Ltd. in England, and is widely recognised as the “Gem” clip.
1909: Paper Shredder – The first paper shredder was invented in 1909 by acclaimed inventor, Abbot Augustus Low.

1914: Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – OCR technology enables written text to be easily read and converted into a digital format. Initially, this technology was used to develop reading devices for the blind and telegraph code throughout the early 1900s.

1957: Personal Computer – The first personal computer was introduced by IBM in 1957 with a modest price tag of $US55,000. The unit was the first programmable computer for use by one person in an office-style setting. At the time, the 340kg  machine performed speedy arithmetic calculations for academic settings, military intelligence operations and the sciences.

1982: The Internet – In its most primitive form, the Internet Protocol Suite was introduced in 1982 as the first worldwide network of data. Through the creation of the Internet, information can be sent around the world in a matter of seconds rather than days. Today, document imaging providers use the Internet for “Scan-on-Demand” programs, which enable businesses to archive all paper files off-site and convert documents into digital format on a need basis for cost-efficient file conversion.