Mechanisation and computerisation

Authored by: Charles W. Wootton , Barbara E. Kemmerer

The Routledge Companion to Accounting History

Print publication date:  July  2008
Online publication date:  May  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415410946
eBook ISBN: 9780203871928
Adobe ISBN: 9781135230883


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This chapter examines the effects of technical innovations in record keeping upon accounting. The type and time frame of these innovations can be separated into two eras. The first era, mechanisation, began around 1870, and by 1930 mechanical accounting was widely used throughout the world. Major innovations introduced in this period included typewriters, calculators, bookkeeping machines, loose leaf accounting systems and tabulators. For the next twenty or thirty years, few innovations occurred in the processing of accounting information. Although machines became faster, the manner in which data was processed essentially did not change. Then, in the early 1950s, the second era (computerisation) began. However, it would be the mid-1960s before the computer found a substantive role in information processing. Twenty years later, with the introduction of the personal computer and innovative software, computers became an essential element of the accounting process. More recently, the emergence of fibre optical cables, e-mail, and the Internet has created instantaneous exchange of information over great distances.

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