One of the first experiences with time cards I ever had was watching the intro of The Flintstones. Fred waits for the boss to blow the whistle to signal the end of the working day. He excitedly hops into his car. And before he leaves the quarry, grabs a stone time card for an awaiting dinosaur who promptly chomps his tooth marks into it. Fred is a free man! It’s time to enjoy life outside of work with his family.
The time card, a timeless symbol of daily work in the industrial age, has carried itself into the modern worker’s routine. Every day, workers put invaluable hours at work, and there’s no better way to tally up those hours than using a time card. It’s a compelling and straightforward concept. However, it has significantly evolved over the years.
Try as I may, I couldn’t find any proof of prehistoric cave dwellers using time cards. The Flintstones are a cultural staple, but they are far from being historically correct. But what endears them to us is how they connect us to what is real. Fred excitedly punching in his time card to get to the freedom of family life is real to us. Every worker has viewed time cards as the last hurdle to enjoying life outside of work, however, they are a necessary evil to ensure that their hours are accurately tabulated.
But I digress.
The Beginning of The Time Card
The first mechanical time clock appeared in 1888, when Willard Le Grand Bundy, a jeweller from Auburn, New York, invented the first time clock. His invention was to help unions resolve disputes between employers and workers over the number of hours they were working. A year later, Willard’s brother, Harlow, created the Bundy Manufacturing Company to mass-produce these practical, time-saving machines.
The Bundy Manufacturing Company would eventually be sold, and by 1911, it would be merged into a company called International Business Machines, better known as IBM.
Computers Take Over
By the late 20th century, punch clocks with paper cards were naturally replaced with computers. With computing power behind it, massive amounts of data could be collected from worksites worldwide. This data could then be quickly compiled into easily digestible reports and charts. Speed and accuracy made the administrator’s jobs unbelievably easier when it came to payroll and billing.
Now, time cards are referred to as timesheets. Their use moved away from industrial industries and is now a staple in the IT, healthcare, construction and consultant realms. Small businesses and startups rely on timesheets to squeeze every dime from the time that teams put into their work.
The Future Of Time Cards is Artificial Intelligence
With the dominant rise of smartphones, timekeeping for workers on the field can be done instantly from almost anywhere. Using artificial intelligence, companies like Dovico are investigating ways to track employees’ time without any need for employee involvement. Leveraging integrated systems, the time spent on projects automatically gets connected and saved.
From the first time clocks invented by Willard Bundy to self-calculating PCs to the mobility of powerful smartphones, the timesheet is poised to be a timeless invention as long as workers are paid for their hours.
With AI here to stay, the modern-day Fred Flintstone will no longer have to submit time when driving out of the quarry. His time will be saved before he jumps off his dino excavator, and his ticket to the freedom from the workday will be instantaneous.
Unless you’re an unemployed dinosaur who’s tooth imprint on a stone time card is all the experience you have, it’s exciting to see where the journey of the time card takes us when you’re interested in saving time.