History of Accounting: 7 Facts for Trivia Night

History of Accounting: 7 Facts for Trivia Night

7 Trivia-Worthy History of Accounting Facts

The history of accounting is vast and filled with many interesting facts that are definitely worth noting—especially when playing trivia with friends and family. Let’s explore some fascinating facts about accounting, from its origins to key individuals who have shaped the industry.

1. It’s One of the Oldest Professions

Accounting is one of the oldest professions in the world, with the earliest accounting records appearing in ancient Mesopotamia more than 7,000 years ago. The Mesopotamians used primitive accounting methods to track transactions involving crops and livestock.

2. Origins of the Word Accountant

The word “accountant” derives from the French word “compter” and the Latin word “computare,” which means to count or calculate.

3. Father of Modern Accounting

Did you know? Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli is the father of accounting. His 615-page mathematical compendium, Summa de Arithmetica Geometria Proportioni et Proportionalità, published in 1494, contains his most significant contribution to accounting: double-entry bookkeeping.

4. Calculations Were Done Using an Abacus

In the early days of accounting, calculations were done by hand using an abacus, which is a calculating tool where ancient users would slide beads across a frame to aid in counting and simple calculations.

5. Income Tax was Used to Finance a War

On January 9th, 1799, William Pitt the Younger introduced income tax for the first time in Britain as a temporary measure to help finance the war against France.

Under the new tax, individuals who made an annual income of £200 were taxed at 10%, while those who made between £60 to £200 were taxed in different tax brackets, ranging from just below 1% to 10%. However, if you made below £60 a year, you were not subjected to the tax.

Many citizens, from merchants to manufacturers, were not happy with the tax at first and often evaded paying it. In 1802 with the Peace of Amiens, Pitt’s version of income tax ended. Yet in 1803, when the war resumed, it was re-introduced in a slightly different form, known as property tax. By the end of the Napoleonic wars, it was abolished.

6. First Female Accountant in the US

Christine Ross was the first female CPA in the US. She took the New York inaugural CPA exam in December of 1896 but, due to her gender, had to wait to have her scores released. Finally, in December 1899, she was issued certificate no. 143 and went on to become a successful CPA, working with many wealthy clients in an array of industries.

7. An Accountant Invented Bubblegum

In 1928, bubblegum was invented by an accountant named Walter Diemer. At the time, he was working for a bubble gum company called Fleer Corp., where the owner was encouraging his employees to make a better version that wasn’t brittle or stuck to the chewer’s face. This led Diemer to experiment in his free time, ultimately leading him to create Dubble Bubble.

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