What is your dominant activity at work?

Sewing machine and Babbage Analytical computer

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Sewing Machine

The Improved Common Sense as it was known in England was the world's first computerised sewing machine. The machine was an experimental collaboration between the Scottish sewing machine importer and MP James Galloway Weir and Henry Prevost Babbage son of Charles Babbage inventor of the first computer.

19th Century Labour

After the invention of the Singer sewing machine, working from home was common in the tailoring trades. Workers would often finish ready to wear garments as a necessary way to supplement the household income, paying hire for the machine. The computerised sewing would enable one worker to control ten machines. In a factory environment the machines would run 24 hours a day. This division of labour alienated the worker from the product they made and how it was sold.

Like his father Henry had a distaste for the daily noise made by commoners, see "Observations of Street Nuisances" in 1864. Taking workers out of their homes and putting them in factories for ten hours a day would reduce the level of street noise. Working at home tailors could please themselves and work the hours that suited their lifestyle, they could pop out in the middle of the day, have a donut, play with the organ grinder and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Putting workers in factories enabled genius's like Babbage to work in peace.


Instead of diminishing the hours of labour, the working day was prolonged to sixteen and eighteen hours. Formerly, the normal working day was ten hours, during the last century the hours of labour were increased by law here as well as on the Continent. The whole of the trade legislation of the last century turns upon compelling the working people by law to work longer hours..

—Karl Marx

Labour Saving Devices

Labour saving devices have often often served to create longer working days. British GDP fell 2.4 percentage points between 2007 and 2011, while employment actually rose, by 0.3%. More of us are achieving less. That same period saw the growth of web 2.0 and cloud based services supposedly offering a greater increase in productivity.