Files and Folders Before Computers

Filing Cabinets, a Neglected Piece of Business History, by Linda Gross, the Hagley Library

Dr. Robertson is an associate professor of media history at Northeastern University. He explained to us that he is currently researching the early history of the filing cabinet (1890s-1930s). Robertson contends that the filing cabinet has been largely neglected in the history of information technologies, with punch card machines (a clearer precursor to computers) taking a leading role in histories of early 20th century information technologies—this despite the importance of “files” and folders” to how we organize information on computers.

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“This Big, Urgent Question of Protection for Operating Files and Records,” Remington Rand Inc. brochure, ca. 1948, Hagley Digital Archives