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With the invention of the telephone and telegraph, it was no longer necessary to have an office attached to its manufacturing site. Instead, the business office could be located in a town or city which offered immediate access to legal and banking services. If and when office equipment broke down, there was a pool of repair shops and technicians close by.

The 19th century also saw the creation of schools to train men and women to be typist, telegraphers, and telephone operators.

The revolution was not only technical; it was also social. For women, especially, working in an office was viewed as a great deal more respectable than working in a factory – or even as a domestic. By the end of the century, automobiles, while still an oddity and only for the well-to-do, were not longer a once-in-a-lifetime object.

In addition to typewriters, everyday tools in a business setting included carbon paper, onion skin (very thin paper for making multiple copies, foolscap, cheap legal pads (made from substandard paper scraps called sortings), fountain pens, and blotters—each of which gave rise to many profitable secondary industries. Even the lowly paper clip had its place.

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