Today in History – September 24, 1889 – Dial time recorder patented. By the end of the 19th century work norms emphasized punctually at official times. Work hours were scrutinized using emerging scientific management techniques in cost accounting and labor efficiency, recognizing “time is money”. Originally kept with handwritten logs, time recording machines were quickly adopted after their original invention. By 1910, nearly every industrial workplace had a time clock, as well as many commercial offices.
The dial time recorder was an operating clock that could be used to record when employees “punched in” and “punched out” on a daily or weekly basis. Physician Alexander Dey’s patent for the dial time recorder was driven by a simple spring-driven clock with a cast-iron wheel affixed to its dial side (upper left photo). This wheel was perforated with numbered holes in which employees could press a rotating pointer into the hole to record their entry or exit times on a sheet of paper and ring a bell with each punch. The printer had a two-color ribbon that could highlight tardiness in terms of late arrivals and early departures in red.
The wife of Mr. Gamble of Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio was a patient of Dr. Dey. When Dey cured Gamble’s wife of a serious illness, Gamble showed his appreciation by helping Dey get his clock business off the ground, forming the Cincinnati Time Recorder company in 1896. The company was purchased in 1945 by Walter Schott, a Cincinnati industrialist, who was able to exploit the postwar industrial boom. According to the Amano (one of the subsequent owners) website, Mr Schott sold 51% of the business in 1948 to Carl K. Gieringer a former director and chief engineer for a manufacturer of x-ray equipment.
Carl K. Gieringer, now deceased, was my father-in-law. I recall him saying he bought Cincinnati Time Recorder for less than $10,000. He invented and held a number of key patents for time recorders (e.g., Time Recorder patent #2,824,777) and also acquired the original ones from Cincinnati Time Recorder (see upper right image at top of blog). He held over one-third of the market, with IBM being his major competitor. He sold Cincinnati Time Recorder to General Signal in 1976, but stayed on as Vice President. When General Signal terminated the profit sharing plan he had developed for employees he got mad and quit. He subsequently bought and started several other companies. Cincinnati Time Recorder is currently still in business under the name Cincinnati Time Systems and uses the original logo (except with the name change).
My husband Dale Gieringer recently returned to Cincinnati and photographed the original building for Cincinnati Time Recorder at 1733 Central Ave, Cincinnati, Ohio. The building is now unoccupied; a partial image of the original painted sign still remains.
Founded in 1900, the International Time Recording Company was another leading manufacturer of time devices (time recorders, master clocks, and time stamps) in the early part of the twentieth century. The company underwent several reorganizations and mergers and became the International Business Machine Corporation or IBM in 1924. The National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institute houses the International Time Recording Company’s instrument shown above (left image at top of blog). It was hung in a factory in the garment district of New York City.
Carl Gieringer met with T.J. Watson, Jr., CEO of IBM, to negotiate patents. My husband Dale Gieringer recalls his father referring to the ruthless competitive tactics of IBM at the time.
Carl Gieringer endowed a Chair at the University of Cincinnatti, where he received an engineering degree. The current holder of the Carl and Estelle Gieringer Ohio Eminent Scholar in Solid State Electronics is Dr. Andrew Stecki.