Financial transactions have been part of human history since civilization began. The earliest known resemblance of an invoice is the Inshango bone, from the Upper Paleolithic era.
The first-ever invoice can be traced back to 5000 BC.
It was a list of items that had been exchanged amongst two people. As the trade market flourished, the need for more sophisticated invoices increased. As resources in the world increased, the invoice’s face changed and evolved from stone to the ones we receive today.
Written in stone (competing with 5000 BC)
It’s written in stone now! Can’t change it. The lack of paper or parchment didn’t prevent people from writing invoices. Instead, they creatively sought objects on which they could write. Among the first few objects, they wrote the invoice on stone.
Papyrus, parchment, and paper
In the fourth century BC, invoices were hand-written on papyrus. Papyrus was a thick paper made from the papyrus plant, and it was used as a writing surface before parchment became common. Parchment was made from dried animal skin and was used to write invoices until the fifth century BC.
By this time, invoices had also grown sophisticated and included elements such as signatures. Paper was introduced in the 8th century, and invoices used to be hand-written on it until the introduction of the typewriter.
The industrial revolution sparked off in the late 18th century, and with that came the invention of typewriters. To conduct financial transactions in a more organized manner, many businesses started using typewriters to type their invoices. These invoices are like the ones seen today.
As they had elements such as the date of issue, the details of the buyer and the seller, a detailed list of items, and the sum of money.
Today’s modern invoice
Invoices today are created digitally and are often still printed for customers in retail shops and restaurants. They are also sent by mail by banks or by utility companies. With the rise of e-commerce, e-invoices have also become quite common.
They are produced and transmitted electronically from the buyer to the seller as a confirmation of purchase. It saves time and resources as people do not have to get them printed.