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The Calendar: It’s Not Just A Piece of Paper Anymore

History of the Calendar

 The Surprisingly Interesting History of the Modern Calendar


From the beginning of…well, time…humans have devised unique and interesting ways of measuring the passage of it.

Whereas time was once noted as a root of and response to bio-rhythms, environment, planetary constellations and even philosophical worldviews, it is now a finely-tuned, linear entity – marked by ever-advancing technological sophistications.

Going through incarnations led by the Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and Babylonians, today’s modern calendar derives most-ancestrally from the Roman derivative, otherwise known as a Solar calendar. Initially, this calendar was quite a bit shorter than what we are familiar with today; 10 months, and 304 days. Talk about the years flying by!

It was Julius Caesar who declared in 45 BC the augmentation of what eventually spawned today’s format. Very wise astronomers conferred that the year was, indeed, moving by at a rate of 365.25 days per, which is why we now leap every four.

In the mid 13th Century, renowned scientist Roger Bacon — in response to full moon cycles — specified a division of time by breaking a day into hours, minutes and seconds (he went even further, breaking down the seconds, as well).

Still, various swaths of civilizations had unique methodologies and measurements, some simple and crazy at the same time – like the Vikings, who divided their time between Summer and Winter. Man, I’d go all Game-Of-Thrones on people, too, if I only had two seasons.

The more-modern Gregorian calendar, instituted by the Christian church to ensure religious holidays were celebrated on their actual dates, wasn’t universally accepted (over the Julian calendar) until the mid-18th century. Intriguingly, this is why some historical events are listed throughout history with two dates.

So then what? Somewhere along the chain of history, Romans became Vikings; who became explorers of continents; who became explorers of technology and culture; who eventually became the makers and thinkers of today, most if not all now considered to be civilized office workers and calendar-tenders (except those few Vikings still among us).

And what of the actual, physical calendar, itself? You know, that thing some of us never actually use or look at anymore.

In between the stone age and the internet age...
With the onset of the industrial boom, bosses and managers needed people to handle their busy schedules and arrange their appointments. Receptionists were necessary to handle the influx of business, and they of course used calendars and rolodexes and big blotchy pens with fine-smelling ink (c’mon, it’s my office-fetish fantasy!)

But the trend was clear: calendars needed appointment setters, and those setting the appointments could always be more efficient than a lifeless book of pages.

On the long arc of history, despite unending progress of the internet and technology in general, online scheduling solutions did not exist until very recently.

The simple Windows or Mac calendar of 20 years ago was fun to look at when you were a kid — though the most you could ever do was figure out what day your birthday fell on come the year 2099 (…a Wednesday for me – but please, no gifts).

More sophisticated integrations in the past 10-15 years were made possible by companies like Microsoft (with Outlook’s Calendar feature), Apple (with iCal) and Google (with gCal). And now, virtually every mobile device has a digitized version of the daily, weekly, monthly and annual calendar, complete with rolodex, alarm clock, personal receptionists (not talking to you, Siri!) and even shaving kit.

And yet, people still rely heavily – in some pockets of the world exclusively – on paper calendars, rolodexes, and day-planners. This somewhat recent New York Times article highlights people’s hesitation in adopting more technological means by which to keep track of their schedules. Non-techie options seemed to be just as prevalent, and in some cases, moreso.

Additionally, this study from 2011 suggests that online appointment setting is taking its sweet time to saturate – in particular — the working population. I was amazed by the amount of younger people, and business people in general, utilizing an internet solution for their calendaring needs: it’s an infinitesimal figure.

We know that history is trending towards a digital solution for most things, and that a cloud-based lifestyle is vastly replacing the more-analog one we still embrace. Let’s assume for a moment that present-day – a couple years after this study posted – there is more widespread usage across the board. If that is true, there is still vast room for growth in a sector already seeing rapid expansion.

The Future
That’s what makes it so exciting to be at Setster. When we set out to create our online booking platform, we wanted our clients to be able to tie-in all scheduling solutions and appointment-setting roles — whether a company’s CEO, receptionist or customer was at the helm.

We serve the single-service provider – that hair-stylist, or massage therapist; the Mom and Pop teams of 2-3, likes small law firms, salons and spas; Small-businesses of 3-5, such as custom-clothing tailors and tutoring firms; all the way up to widespread chains, franchises and enterprises with hundreds of employees and locations.

We welcome all of you, and are proud to help keep your time straight – whether you continue to use paper or not.

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