Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Dissolving Distance: Telecommuting Stories

March 24, 2020

thf274746Model Wearing Walking Office Wearable Computer Prototype, circa 1984. THF274746

On March 13, 2020 The Henry Ford made the unprecedented decision to temporarily close to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. With Historical Resources staff transitioning into working from home, we are continuing to develop new digital content and drawing together thematic groups of material relevant to our world today.

Like many office workers around the world now working remotely, museum staff working off-site have carved out space wherever they can: taking over living rooms and spare bedrooms, repurposing kitchen tables and setting up cozy basement nooks. We, like many others, are figuring out our new ways of working while simultaneously adjusting to social distancing, cooking healthy meals at home, juggling child care and negotiating with confused dogs demanding walks.

In this new and unexpected reality of #MuseumFromHome, we are grateful for the digital tools (and telephones!) that have allowed us to stay connected with our collections and our colleagues.

It won't come as a surprise that our curators have been thinking this week about the links between our artifacts and the concept of telecommuting. And so we are sharing the following content — drawn primarily from our incredible well of online resources — that is focused on resourceful inventions and behaviors related to long-distance communication.

From the transatlantic cable and a prototype for an intriguing object called "The Walking Office" to the stories of community built by ham radio operators — and one story about the evolution of the office desk for good measure — we hope these stories and resources bring you a little joy and many learning opportunities during these difficult times. 

Personal Computing
"A Decade of Personal Computing" Expert Set
"Booting Up: The Rise of the PC" (Externally Hosted Content on Google Arts & Culture)  

Pager
AirTouch Pager, circa 1995

Fax Tech
Fax Qwip
Finch Fax
Crosley Reado Fax

Kristen Gallerneaux is Curator of Communication & Information Technology at The Henry Ford.

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