Navigate / search

The evolution of the desk

The past 35 years has seen the transformation of the everyday things that surround us traverse from tangible to virtual. A digital app exists for everything from world mapping to paying bills, completely recontextualizing the tools we use in the workplace.

A team at the Harvard Innovation Lab has encapsulated this history of technology, as it relates to the office, in a video, ‘The history of the computer desk‘, demonstrating the steep shift from cork boards and fax machines to pinterest and PDFs.

The evolution of the desk

‘We wondered what it would be like to recreate the desktop from the 1980′s and then emulate its transformation through the computer age.‘ The team explain ‘We wanted to illustrate how technology has changed our world, un-cluttering our desks and simplifying our lives. While gradual change from year to year is often hard to perceive, a longer snapshot gives us a much more dramatic view of the technological progression we have experienced.’

The scene is set with actual vintage items sourced by the team of photographers and entrepreneurs: the Macintosh classic, corded phone, fax machine, globe, corkboard, Polaroid camera, and rolodex were all purchased through individual sellers on Ebay, while the rest of the items were found abandoned an unused in basements and at garage sales. While some argue that technology has made our lives more complex, the video below demonstrates the current clarity from clutter, and the ways in which technology encourages productive and social behavior.

The evolution of the desk
1980 — the first personal computer model is surrounded by countless, tangible desk items
The evolution of the desk
2005 — google maps recontextualizes geographic information
The evolution of the desk
2014 — clutter-free

The producers of this video are BestReviews. Original video source.




And yet the new desk still hasn’t been improved ergonomically. More and more hunched over people with carpal tunnel syndrome appear every day. It will be so wonderful to see stories about adaptable workstations that don’t cause harm to the people sitting at them.


Dear cybersuze,

Human beings weren’t meant to sit in a chair, behind a desk for hours on end. So moving around during office working would be the best suggestion. Of course a good office chair is a must: don’t lock it into position, but let it support you moving around. And if budget isn’t much of an issue, one could consider investing in an electrically adjustable desk which lets you actually stand and work in stead of sitting. Better for your bloodflow and such.

Just my $0.02 😉

Leave a comment


email* (not published)


* indicates required
Email Address*

Email Format