Date of Award

Spring 1931

Document Type



Business, Accounting & Economics


Since the time men lived in communities and competed for the necessities and luxuries of life, there has probably existed some form of advertising. This first period extends to 1450 A. D. when the modern process of printing by movable type was invented. Prior to that time there were forms of hand written and inscribed announcements corresponding to advertisements. Probably the first was an announcement offering a reward for a runaway slave in Egypt about 3000 B.D. In both Greece and Rome, advertisements of gladatorial exhibitions were posted. Another form of publicity used by the Greeks consisted in affixing to the statues of the infernal deities curses inscribed on sheets of lead, assigning persons who had stolen goods or done other injury to the advertiser to the vengeance of these gods.

At first, the merchant cried his wares in the streets carrying them with him as he did so. Later, when shops were established, the professional town crier appeared on the scene. There were, during the pr-printing stage, many town criers in the various large cities of Europe. While their method of announcing was oral, it was, nevertheless, a forerunner of present day advertising in the sense of being mass selling.

The second stage naturally arose when modern methods of printing were invented. With this development there then came about the publication of newspapers and periodicals corresponding to our modern magazines. It is said the first newspaper was published in Strassburg in 1609.

The Modern Period may be dated from 1850 to 1911. The reason for putting the dividing point between the second and third periods at 1850 is the rapid appearance of newspapers and magazines which made possible the development of modern advertising on a large scale. Advertising was impossible until printing developed and until people generally learned to read. One reason for the rapid increase in the number and distribution of advertising mediums at this time is probably found in the development of transportation systems, the railroads, and the waterways. Prior to that time, railroad lines were limited to restricted areas.

During this period the number of magazines and newspapers grew very rapidly, to such an extent that in 1861 there were 5,703 magazines, papers and periodicals in the United States. Advertising firms and agencies got a foothold. In 1914 there was organized the Audit Bureau of Circulations. This has become the leading agency for securing reliable information about advertising mediums and their selection for specific purposes.

Advertising today plays an important role in the operation of business. It has assumed such large proportions in recent years that it is difficult to estimate its magnitude and to calculate the exact place which it occupies in present commercial affairs. It has been estimated that in the neighborhood of one billion dollars is spent annually for this purpose and that about 3,000 square miles are used each year in the country.