5 Business Cards That Changed the World

You’ve seen the lists of people who changed the world. Though the order of importance of those who have had a profound influence on society is debatable, the same names undeniably appear time and again on such lists. In contemporary times, just about every mountain-mover had at least one thing in common: they carried business cards. It seems they, too, knew the power of print marketing. To celebrate both notions, I offer below five business cards that changed the world.

Abraham Lincoln business card

Before he was this nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln practiced law in Illinois. This business card from his days in Springfield predates his journey to the White House.

Bill Gates business card

Bill Gates might not carry the prestige of a former president, but the effects of his contributions to society are perhaps just as far-reaching. Business card design and printing capabilities and processes have certainly come a long way since the Microsoft founder handed out this business card, and Gates can derive pleasure knowing that he played a major role in sparking the tech revolution.

Steve Wozniak business card

This business card might be more modern and post-Apple, but its holder has had no less an influence on world culture than Gates.

Wilbur and Orville Wright business card

The Wright brothers had a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, before they were famous for the first flight. It’s no coincidence that the first flying machines were manufactured largely with bicycled parts, borrowed from another form of self-propulsion that likewise revolutionized travel.

Albert Einstein business card

The father of modern physics had a surprisingly plain Jane business card that didn’t exactly do justice to his revolutionary theories, wild hair and crazy personal life.

5 Responses to 5 Business Cards That Changed the World

  1. Thomas Clark January 22, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    Interesting spelling of “Hangar” on the Wright card.

  2. Brian Morris January 23, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    Thomas, I wonder if that was how it was spelled during the period, or whether it was a typo? To me, it would be far more interesting to note that the pioneers of aviation were prone to typographical errors!

  3. Anna R January 23, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    The consensus of the netmind is that the Wrights’ card is a fake, not necessarily because of the misspelling of “hangar” (and no, that’s not how it was spelled then, or ever) but because the smaller sans-serif font (Futura) wasn’t designed until 1927. Also, the Lincoln card has been deemed published as anti-Lincoln propaganda humor, probably by the Democratic National Committee, in 1864.

  4. comatus January 24, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    The use of @ to represent “located at” (instead of expressing a rate or price) is recent. In 1910 Huffman was still referred to as Huffman Prairie in the Wrights’ correspondence. “Hangar” was a much newer, and more specific, word in the first decade of the 20th century, and less likely to be misspelled than it is today.

    I think the card is a fake. What is its provenance?

  5. Brian Morris January 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Anna and comatus, I believe you’re both correct. Those two business cards have been perpetuated as the real deal on the web, but the Wright card is a fake and the Lincoln card is, indeed, anti-Lincoln propaganda humor (close inspection of the wording reveals this to be true). http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/lincoln/aa_lincoln_humor_1.html

    I’m going to try to track down the real deals and post them here. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

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