Throwback Thursday

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Robert Owen, Father of Personnel Management

Born May 14, 1771, social and educational reformer Robert Owen, is generally referred to as the father of personnel management. The Human Resources field evolved first in 18th century Europe from a simple idea by Robert Owen and Charles Babbage during the industrial revolution. These men knew that people were crucial to the success of an organization. They expressed that the well being of employees led to perfect work. Without healthy workers, the organization would not survive. HR later emerged as a specific field in the early 20th century, influenced by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915). Taylor explored what he termed “scientific management” others later referred to “Taylorism”, striving to improve economic efficiency in manufacturing jobs. He eventually keyed in on one of the principal inputs into the manufacturing process—labor—sparking inquiry into workforce productivity.

Meanwhile, in England C S Myers, inspired by unexpected problems among soldiers which had alarmed generals and politicians in the First World War, set up a National Institute of Industrial Psychology, planting the seeds for the human relations movement, which on both sides of the Atlantic built on the research through the Hawthorne studies (1924-1932) and others how stimuli, unrelated to financial compensation and working conditions, could yield more productive workers.

Having profited enormously from enterprise in the early Industrial Revolution, Robert Owen set about trying to remedy its excesses through environmental, educational, factory and law reform. Synthesizing reformist ideas from the Age of Enlightenment and drawing on his own experience as an industrialist he constructed A New View of Society (1816), a rallying call for widespread social change, with education at its core. His New Lanark cotton mills, the test-bed for his ideas, became internationally famous.

Owen had raised the demand for  ten-hour day in year 1810, and instituted it in his cotton mills. By 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan “8 hours labor, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours full rest.” The eight-hour day movement forms part of the early history for the celebration of the Labor Day, and May Day in many nations and cultures.

Working Conditions

Owen’s extremely advanced system of factory management, which he pioneered at the New Lanark,  gained him credibility, not only as a successful businessman, but also as a benevolent employer. He proved that commercial success could be achieved without exploitation of those employed; his approach to social and economic organization was extended beyond the mill floor into every aspect of village life.

“Eight hours’ daily labor is enough for any human being, and under proper arrangements sufficient to afford an ample supply of food, raiment and shelter, or the necessaries and comforts of life, and for the remainder of his time, every person is entitled to education, recreation and sleep”. (Foundation Axioms of Owen’s “Society for Promoting National Regeneration”, 1833)

Robert Owen’s views had particular appeal for women. At a time when men were hostile to women’s rights, he courted controversy by denouncing marriage, as it then existed, as a form of slavery for women. “Women will be no longer made the slaves of, or dependent upon men…. They will be equal in education, rights, privileges and personal liberty”. (Book of the New Moral World: Sixth Part, 1841)

THROWBACK THURSDAY: “Good to the Last Drop”


On May 11, 1926, Maxwell House Coffee registered its “Good to the last drop” Maxwell House adtrademark, which still appears on cans of Maxwell House Coffee to this day. The product and its name go back to 1886 in the Maxwell House hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The hotel served its own blend of coffee that was perfected by Joel Cheek, and he was persuaded by guests to market his brew.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The History & Origin of Easter Eggs


{from the Cadbury website}

Eggs have been associated with the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, since the early days of the church. However, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

The egg has long been a symbol of ‘fertility’, ‘rebirth’ and ‘the beginning’. In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix burns its nest to be reborn later from the egg that is left; Hindu scriptures relate that the world developed from an egg. With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the Resurrection. Some Christians regard the egg as a symbol for the stone rolled from the sepulchre.

The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colors with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many cultures continue to dye Easter eggs, often decorating them with flowers. The 17th and 18th centuries saw the manufacture of egg-shaped toys, which were given to children at Easter. The Victorians had cardboard, ‘plush’ and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates.

Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionery. Some early eggs were solid, as the technique for mass-producing moulded chocolate had not been devised. The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs must have been painstaking, as the molds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time.

Pysanky {from NPR}Eggs 1

Some elevate the egg into an elaborate art, like the heavily jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs that were favored by the Russian czars starting in the 19th century.

One ancient form of egg art comes to us from Ukraine. For centuries, Ukrainians have been drawing intricate patterns on pysanky — eggs decorated using a traditional method that involves a stylus and wax. Contemporary artists have adapted these methods to create eggs that speak to the anxieties of our age: Life is precious, and fragile. Eggs are, too.

The elaborate patterns found on traditional Ukrainian pysanky are believed to offer protection against evil.

“There’s an ancient legend that as long as pysanky are made, evil will not prevail in the world,” says pysanky artist Joan Brander, who has been making pysanky for more than 60 years.

The pysansky tradition, says Brander, dates back to Ukrainian spring rituals in pre-Christian times. The tradition was incorporated into the Christian church, but the old symbols endure. A pysanka with a bird on it, when given to a young married couple, is a wish for children. A pysanka thrown into the field would be a wish for a good harvest.

What about the Easter Egg hunt?

One source suggested that it grew out of the tradition of German children searching for hidden pretzels during the Easter season. Since children were hiding nests for the Easter Bunny to fill with eggs at the same time they were hunting pretzels, it was only a small leap to begin hiding eggs instead.

Happy Easter Season from all of us at The Hire Solution!

THROWBACK THURSDAY: IBM Unveils First Mainframe Computer


Photos from the IBM archives 

Hard to believe that just 53 years ago, on April 7, 1964, IBM introduced the world’s first mainframe computer, the System/360, at the company’s lab in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Few products in American history have had the incredible impact of the S/360 – on technology, on the way the world works, or on the organization that created them. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, ranks the S/360 as one of the world’s all-time top three business accomplishments, along with Ford’s Model T and Boeing’s first jetliner, the 707. IBM would dominate the computer industry for the next 20 years.

IBM 3Most significantly, the introduction of S/360 marked a turning point in the emerging field of information science and the understanding of complex systems. After the S/360, we no longer talked about automating particular tasks with “computers.” Now, we talked about managing complex processes through “computer systems.”

When the S/360 was announced, it not only changed computing forever, but also IBM. The company learned, in the words of Thomas Watson Jr., second president of IBM and son of the company’s founder, “there was nothing IBM couldn’t do.”

The S/360 replaced all five of IBM’s computer product lines with one strictly compatible family, using a new architecture that pioneered the eight-bit byte still in use on every computer today; it changed the way customers thought about computer hardware. Companies for the first time could buy a small system and add to it as they grew.

When companies other than IBM found they could make peripheral equipment that worked with the S/360, an entire industry was created consisting of companies making and supplying plug-compatible peripheral products – a phenomenon that would be echoed 20 years later, when IBM’s decision to allow clones of its PC spawned the personal computer industry. The S/360 was revolutionary in concept and unprecedented in scope.

Read more at IBM’s website.

Throwback Thursday: April Fools’!

aprilfool retroNo, it’s NOT really Thursday – it’s April Fools’ Day!

Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news, or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1, became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations, and websites have participated in the April 1 tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences.

In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees; numerous people were fooled.

In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.

In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.

In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested it.

April Fool’s Day Facts & Quotes

  • Traditionally, pranksters shout April Fool as they reveal the joke.  In the United Kingdom, jokes can only be played until midday.  If someone plays a joke after midday, then they are the April Fool.  In Ireland, tradition was to deliver an important letter to a person, who would then deliver the letter to another person, and so on.  Once finally opened, the letter would say send the fool further.
  • On April 1st 2015, the United States Army printed an article about army drones that would deliver 3D-printed pizzas to U.S. army soldiers across the world.  The pizzas would be made to order and have a shelf life of three years.  Researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center were credited with the project and concept.  The first drone pizza delivery was cited to be made by April Fools Day 2016.
  • On March 31, 2015, Honda introduced the HR-V Selfie Edition (Honda HR-V SLF).  The car featured 10 interior and exterior cameras to allow the driver to snap selfies, while the car is parked.  Of course, this was an April Fool’s Day joke.
  • On April 1, 2015, singer and actor Katy Perry Instagrammed a photo of herself with her hair chopped off.  The photo was captioned with I asked for the Kris Jenner.  Perry is known for her ever-changing image transformations, leaving the internet speculating on whether this was actually a prank or if Perry had in fact cut her hair.  In the days that followed, Perry’s photos revealed that this was only a prank.
  • Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Chinese Proverb.