The Rolodex, the dictionary, the fax machine, the telephone, the calculator, the globe. These are just some of the objects that have disappeared from our desks over the past 35 years, as technology has consolidated our daily necessities into a single laptop to rule them all.
To see how far we’ve come, check out this video by the Harvard Innovation Lab. Called the Evolution of the Desk, the video shows just how many radical technological shifts we have experienced over the past 35 years. All of the objects in the video—including the Macintosh, the fax machine, the corded phone, the radio, even the Rolodex—are authentic, scrounged up from basements, storage units, and garage sales just for this video.
It’s a reminder that the idea of a clutter-free work environment is a luxury that technology has afforded us. Thirty-five years ago, everyone’s desk was cluttered, but thanks to apps like Skype, Evernote, Gmail, and iTunes, we really don’t have an excuse for messy desks any more. The necessary evil of a cluttered desk in 1980 is a character failing in 2014. Technology just doesn’t want you to be a slob.
Check out the full Evolution of the Desk project here. It’s worth scrubbing back and forth to see just how far we’ve all come.