Landmarks in Alternative Accounting History

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Success in accountancy is as much about understanding - and learning from - our rich accounting past as it is about being clued up on modern accounting life.

Many potentially best-selling books on the history of accounting have been written by worthy academics over the counting centuries. They provide a valuable resource from which to learn!

To complement this transactional treasure trove, our alternative history team has been undertaking admittedly-limited research of its own into the origins of some of the more day-to-day aspects of working in finance.

Landmarks in Accounting History

Month end

Pre-10,000 BC – primitive counting man is already resigned to routinely burning the midnight oil to the monthly reconciling rhythm of the sun and moon.

A dig in 1937 by accounting archaeologists working in the mystical Valley of Ledgers near Stonehenge in southern England uncovered rough scratches on primitive flint post-its and scribblings on cave walls (the first Month End Accounts Completion Checklist?).

Indeed, some accountancy academics have suggested that Stonehenge itself was a shared service centre: used by boulder counters and dinosaur reconcilers across the ancient world. Evidence cited includes fragments of slate arch-lever files from a 1957 excavation at the legendary blue stones.

But what puzzles these bookkeeping boffins is what led so many numerate near-Neanderthals to self-inflict such wanton pain and self-sacrifice in the first place? After all, for most of the calendar-watching types of the time, only the occasional late night to catch the solstice was tolerated as part of normal working conditions.

Maybe we will never know the answer to this question. What we do know is that the decision these counting cavemen took led to the unquestioned foregoing of family holidays, missed time with friends and the rescheduling of doctor's appointments for countless generations to come.


2,335 BC – double-entry appears to have been invented by the potty but progressive Pharaoh FIFO II - the first in a long dynasty of highly revered god-like accounting kings in Numeria near modern day Egypt.

Hieroglyphics in his burial chamber record a Senior Finance Team meeting from this date. Faced with unrest among the increasing counting populace of his kingdom and a lack of jobs, he hit upon the revolutionary idea of moving from SINGLE entry for recording transactions to DOUBLE entry.

Requiring twice as many counters, this new system transformed his – and his descendants’ - fortunes overnight.

Finance Department 'Your Say' Survey

AD. 1255 – the first recorded staff motivation survey appears in a dully illuminated medieval manuscript in an accountant monastery in Germany. Written in Latin by monks of the Holy Order of Debits and Credits and entitled “Moanus Maximus” it caused a stir when first published, leading to ‘Ye First Focusse Groupe” in AD 1256.

Patron Saint of Alternative Accountants

AD.1523Lord Helpus is born and capitalised in Bath, England, to a counting father and non-counting mother.

accounting history text © copyright 2009

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