Journal of Accountancy Large Logo
June 2012
Carousel of progress

Much has changed since the American Association of Public Accountants was formed in 1887. Take a trip through time to see how the world and the accounting profession have evolved over the past 125 years. This feature makes stops in four years—1887, 1938, 1983, and 2012—giving you a glimpse of what it was like to be an accountant at various points during the AICPA’s existence.

Pioneer specialists
CPAs have been the leaders in offering clients tax preparation, planning, and advice since the early 20th century, when landmark legislation instituted taxes on corporate and individual incomes. This article traces the history and development of the CPA tax practitioner over the past century.
The CPA's role in restoring fiscal sanity
The United States is approaching a financial tipping point that requires action to avert a U.S. debt crisis, the former comptroller general of the United States writes in a guest column. CPAs are uniquely positioned to enhance public understanding of government spending—and advocate for transparency, accountability, and improvements to government financial reporting.
XBRL emerges as career niche

Proponents of XBRL have been touting its potential for years. With the SEC’s mandate that public companies file their financials using the data standard, opportunities are opening up for graduating students and practicing accountants who have XBRL knowledge. Just ask Jeff Petka, 31, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise to head of the XBRL team for energy giant Southern Co.

Barry Melancon
In a wide-ranging interview, AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon addresses the trials, triumphs, and transformation of the accounting profession during the past two decades and outlines the ways he foresees technology, globalization, and other factors radically reshaping the CPA’s world over the next several years.
Technology and CPAs
Which technologies will have the biggest impact on accounting, and how will they transform the profession? Which technology skills will CPAs need to be successful? The JofA polled 10 of the accounting world’s top technology experts, and their responses revealed areas of agreement as well as points of contention. This article mines those answers for the advice and insight CPAs can use to make the most of the coming technological advances.
Founding years for state-level accounting organizations
We’ve traced the creation of state-level accounting organizations from before 1900, when the first groups were founded, through a flurry of development in the early 20th century, when accounting societies, associations, or institutes began dotting the landscape. See the map.
125 technology quick tips

In honor of the AICPA’s 125th anniversary, the JofA presents 125 hints and pointers regarding technology topics such as Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, iPads, smartphones, Google, cool websites, and more.

The timeline: 1887–2012
Take a visual tour of the past 125 years of accounting through this illustrated timeline, which highlights significant events and notable people in the development of the AICPA, the accounting profession, regulation, and the economy.
125 people of impact in accounting
A profession known for integrity and character has had more than its share of special people. With the help of an expert panel, the JofA identified 125 individuals who have had a significant impact on accounting during the AICPA’s 125-year history.
Picturing a profession
From the abacus to adding machines to PCs in your pocket, the tools of the accounting profession have evolved over the past 125 years. AICPA members sent us their machines—and other bits of memorabilia used by CPAs in their day-to-day work and education—to help us illustrate the history of the profession. See images of the objects and read the stories behind them.
CFO round table: Managing uncertainty
A sluggish world economy, new regulations, disruptive technologies, and unexpected disasters are the new norm. When business cycles were more predictable, planning was much easier. But a new era of unpredictability is changing how companies strategize. Three CFOs from three very different industries offer insight into the fickle global marketplace—and how their roles are changing because of it.
Test your CPA history knowledge
This 10-question quiz isn’t as difficult as the CPA exam, but it isn’t easy.
Generation next

As the flood of baby boomers sweeps into retirement over the next two decades, a new wave of CPA leaders will rise. Where will these leaders take the accounting profession? How do they foresee accounting—and accountants—evolving? What are the best practices for developing new CPA leaders? Members of the next generation of CPA leadership offer their views in a JofA round table.


Maryland Association of CPAs makes case for practical benefits of technology.

Tagging system allows dramatic leap in speed of data extraction.



Spotlight On

AICPA 125th Anniversary

This commemorative JofA issue celebrating the AICPA’s 125th anniversary provides a look at the people, events, trends, and tools that have defined the AICPA’s leadership role in the accounting profession throughout its history.

Ideas for the issue began with a conversation with accounting historian and professor Gary Previts, chair of the Department of Accountancy at Case Western Reserve University, almost two years ago and have come to fruition in articles and images that capture the AICPA’s long history and examine the opportunities that lie ahead for both the Institute and profession. We are grateful also to Dale L. Flesher and Tonya K. Flesher, associate dean and accounting professor, respectively, at the University of Mississippi; Jennifer Reynolds-Moehrle of the University of Missouri–St. Louis; Stephanie Moussalli of Rhodes College; former AICPA President Philip Chenok; former AICPA Chairman Robert Elliott; Ohio State Emeritus Professor of Accounting Dan Jensen; and Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program Executive Director Doyle Williams for their guidance.

Our goal for this issue was to go beyond commemorating the anniversary—to have the past come alive in words and pictures. Our photo shoot of accounting memorabilia helps do that. Selected from submissions of more than 400 members, the photos highlight the progression of the tools of the profession from the abacus to the iPad. We would also like to thank all the members who responded to our call and then entrusted us with their treasures.

If you prefer to read this commemorative issue on your iPad, click here to download the new AICPA members-only Journal of Accountancy News App for iPad.

—the JofA team

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