The word “desk” originated from the Modern Latin word desca “table to portable under desk storage on”, from the mid 14th century. It is a modification of the Old Italian desco “table”, from Latin discus “dish” or “disc”.
The word desk has been used figuratively since 1797. Desk-style furniture appears not to have been used in classical antiquity or in other ancient centers of literate civilization in the Middle East or Far East, but there is no specific proof. Desks of the Renaissance and later eras had relatively slimmer structures, and more and more drawers were added as woodworking became more precise and cabinet-making became a distinct trade. The basic desk forms were developed mostly in the 17th and 18th centuries. The modern ergonomic desk is a refinement of the mechanically complex drawing table or drafting table from the end of the 18th century.
An office desk in a cubicle, which shows the sharing of space between computer components and paper documents. Refinements to the first desk forms were considerable through the 19th century, as steam-driven machinery made cheap wood-pulp paper possible towards the end of the first phase of the Industrial Revolution. More paper and correspondence drove the need for more complex desks and more specialized desks, such as the rolltop desk which was a mass-produced, slatted variant of the classical cylinder desk. A small boom in office work and desk production occurred at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th with the introduction of smaller and less expensive electrical presses and efficient carbon paper coupled with the general acceptance of the typewriter.
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Another big expansion occurred after the Second World War with the spread of photocopying. School desk manufactured by the American S. Student desk and chair commonly used in high schools and universities. A student desk can be any desk form meant for use by an enrollee in elementary, secondary or postsecondary education.
Anna Breadin designed and patented a one-piece school desk in the late 1880s that was built with a table section attached in front of a wooden seat and back rest. Before this, most students in America sat either on chairs or long benches at long tables. In homes, the term “student desk” designates a small pedestal desk or writing table constructed for use by a teenager or a pre-teen in their room. The desks are usually mass-produced in steel or wood and sold on the consumer market. There is a wide variety of plans available for woodworking enthusiasts to build their own versions.
Modern mass-produced student desks are often made with laminate table tops and molded plastic seats in a combined single unit, with storage found under the desktop or on a wire shelf beneath the seat. Until the late 1980s, desks remained a place for paperwork and “business machines”, but the personal computer was taking hold in large and medium-sized businesses. New office suites included a “knee hole” credenza which was a place for a terminal or personal computer and keyboard tray. Soon, new office designs also included “U-shape” suites which added a bridge worksurface between the back credenza and front desk. With computers more prevalent, “computer paper” became an office supply. The beginning of this paper boom gave birth to the dream of the “paperless office”, in which all information would only appear on computer monitors.
Through the “tech boom” of the 1990s, office worker numbers increased along with the cost of office space rent. The cubicle desk became widely accepted in North America as an economical way of squeezing more desk workers into the same space, without further shrinking the size of their cramped working surfaces. Early in the 2000s, private office workers found that their side and back computer-placing furniture made it hard to show the contents of a computer screen to guests or co-workers. Manufacturers have responded to this issue by creating “forward facing” desks where computer monitors are placed on the front of the “U-shape” workstation. This forward computer monitor placement promotes a clearer sight-line to greet colleagues and allows for common viewing of information displayed on a screen. Replacement of bulky CRT monitors with flat panel LCDs freed up significant room on desktops.
However, the size of displays often increased to accommodate multiple on-screen windows, to display more and more information simultaneously. The Resolute desk in the Oval Office has been used by many American presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Archived from the original on 2012-07-31.
A Potted History of Writing Furniture”. Archived from the original on 2012-04-21. Archived from the original on 2012-08-04. How to Build a Loft Bed With a Desk Underneath”.