||Introduction: One of the earliest information technology devices in the workplace was the time clock, which recorded the comings and going of workers with an accuracy not previously possible. Edward G. Watkins invented and patented one of the first practical time clocks while he was in charge of the engineering department of Haywood Brothers & Wakefield Co. in
, a maker of chairs and school furniture. Watkins started a company to make the clocks, which eventually became the Simplex Time Recorder Co.
From 1894, when the grandfather of Edward G. Watkins III patented the "Simplex" time clock, until the 1980s, Simplex held a virtual monopoly in the time-recording device market. After punching in at the helm in 1967, Watkins III diversified into fire alarms and security systems. He also went to work as a philanthropist, giving some of his estimated $900 million to local hospitals and sitting on the boards of various charities. In January 2000, just before the economic slowdown, he sold Simplex for $1.2 billion to Tyco International, which sold it to Kronos two years later.
No wonder he became a tycoon!
Another interesting read relates to the 1958 IBM divestiture of Simplex.