Advertising & Marketing

Who Invented the Calendar and How Has It Evolved?

Calendars are more than just a popular piece of office decor, they’re an essential part of how we as a society keep track of work schedules, academic schedules, personal events and more. Whether we’re marking off days on a large poster calendar on the wall or noting down appointments on an online calendar, everyone, at some point in their day, will use a calendar. But who created the calendar, and how have they evolved since then? As it happens, that is a very long story.

Who Invented the Calendar?

When were calendars invented and who invented them? Unfortunately, there’s no way to pin down exactly who first decided to start writing down their schedule. A calendar is anything used by people to note the passage of days, seasons, etc., meaning that just about anyone could have invented the calendar. The Babylonians, Chinese, Mayans and other ancient civilisations are among the most well known for their early calendars, and according to the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews, each of them had a heavy focus on tracking solar and lunar cycles, with about 12 months in a year to follow the rotation of the sun, and each month containing 29-30 days to follow the cycle of the moon, with varying attempts at deciding how best to keep the calendar synced with the solar equinox.

So, When Did the Calendar Start Being Gregorian?

In 46BC, Julius Caesar stepped in with a new calendar that no longer tried to keep perfect time with the moon, and instead offered an average of 365.25 days per calendar year with a leap year every four years (like we have today). Despite this change, the calendar fell off-sync with the solar equinox, and because the Catholics needed this to be in sync in order to keep track of the correct time of year for Easter, they commissioned a revised calendar in 1582 from their senior mathematician, Christopher Clavius. According to the Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Navy, the addition created a new (and complicated) rule for the leap year, which is;

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

Thankfully, we can ignore most of these calculations until the year 2400.

Wall Calendar History

One of the most popular types of home calendar is the wall calendar, the place where families and even office workers will post their monthly schedule in a highly visible and decorative way. But how long have people been using them? Apparently at least since the time of lithographs, according to The TV Professor. Popular in the 1800s, these calendars were made up of 12 sheets of metal, each printed with a month and a painting, looking much how they look today.

However, printing on metal is expensive, and people still needed calendars to keep track of the days. That’s why before wall calendars came to be made from paper, pocket calendars were the calendar of the people.

The History of Pocket Calendars

That’s right, today’s trendy bound calendars have actually been popular for hundreds of years! According to Sumkin Studio, pocket diaries were originally upgraded to include a weekly template by American publisher Robert Atkin, though they wouldn’t become popular until the 1800s, when the Industrial Revolution in America created busy lives that needed to be scheduled. By the 1900s, pocket planners became a necessity for everyone from the high-society businessman to the average factory worker.

And when things become a necessity, they become a great place for marketing. Early examples of this include the Wanamaker Diary and the American Express appointment books. Much like today’s pocket planners, companies would use their own pocket planners to incorporate their brand into the everyday life of their customers.

But pocket planners have changed a fair amount since the 1800s. The TV Professor describes how pocket calendars contained decades of calendar dates inside, with one even containing 100 years! Talk about planning ahead. Today pocket planners will hold only one year, with a few months of the previous year, and have monthly, weekly and daily template options.

The History of Flip and Tear-Away Calendars

We all know that those small, one-day-at-a-time calendars are a great way to promote your products (that’s why sells so many), but did you know that they were actually invented for that purpose? According to The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery based in Colorado, William Berry, a foreman for The Fort Collins Express-Courier newspaper, and Joseph H. McClelland, son and grandson of newspapermen, joined to form a printing company called B&M Printing in 1930. McClelland came up with the idea of notepad calendars as a way to keep their brand visible to customers on a daily basis while at the same time offering them an easy way to keep track of the passage of days.

Just like our modern tear-away calendars, these little notepads would offer things like daily political thoughts, historical facts and content from partnerships with other companies like The Business and Professional Women’s Club. There was even one that featured a story written by their local female author, Agnes Wright Spring!

Today, these types of calendars now contain daily jokes, motivational quotes, comic strips, scenic photos and more.

How Can I Use Calendars for My Business?

As it turns out, many calendar styles used today were originally invented as promotional products. Made to effectively keep your brand close to your customers, you can easily customise promotional calendars to make your logo a daily part of your customers’ lives. Give them out individually or with other custom office supplies for a gift that keeps on giving back to your business.

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