History of accounting

Accounting History . It is an activity as old as Humanity itself. Since man is a man, and even long before he knew writing, he has needed to keep accounts, keep memories, and record data regarding his economic life and wealth: goods that he collected, hunted, made, consumed, and owned; goods it stored; goods that it loaned; assets it gave in administration; among other activities.



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  • 1 Background
    • 1 Period between 453-1453 ne
    • 2 XV century
    • 3 XIX century
  • 2 Evolution of Accounting in Cuba
  • 3 Accounting regulation from 1959
    • 1 Stages of transit of Cuban accounting
  • 4 Business Improvement
    • 1 Business Improvement of the State Company
  • 5 See also
  • 6 Sources


According to what was expressed by Gertz ( 1996 ), around 6000 BC, the necessary elements for accounting activity already existed: writing and numbers; the concept of property, a large volume of operations, currencies and perhaps, credit in the markets, there is a clay tablet, dating back to that time, in which some researchers have believed to find records of income and expenses, single game; audacious others identify the records twice. There are testimonies about accounting, both in Egypt and in Mesopotamia.

Pagani , in his work I Libri Comerciali [quoted by Gertz, 1996 , “who, when referring to the Athens of the 5th century BC, says that there were kings who imposed on merchants the obligation to keep certain books, in order to record the operations celebrated … ”.»

Continuing with Gertz ( 1996 ), he states that «The first great known Economic Empire was that of Alexander the Great (356,323 BC), in addition to the Greek bankers, they were famous in Athens , exerting their influence throughout the Empire. Of them it is said: “They kept an accounting for their clients, which they had to show when they were demanded; their ability, and their technical knowledge made them frequently used to examine the accounts of the city” (History of Modern Bank of Isue, Conant.) »

The activities of accounting registration have been happening continuously, although only from the fourteenth century and the fifteenth century written testimonies with a regular and relatively abundant character are preserved.

The data contained in the accounting documentation, even the oldest and most fragmentary, are quantitative and accurate, not to mention the case of modern accounting carried out twice, in which the data is presented forming a coherent, complete and intimately interrelated. For this reason, their study and interpretation allow us to shed many times an entirely new and unsuspected light on historical events that, in their absence, had been explained in an erroneous or insufficient manner.

However, it is in Rome , where there are specific and incontrovertible testimonies on accounting practice, from the first centuries of its foundation, every head of the family recorded his income and expenses daily in a book called “Adversaria”, which was a kind of draft, since monthly transcribed, with great care, in another book, the “Codex or Tubulae”; in which, on one side were the income (acceptum), and on the other the expenses (expensum).

Gertz ( 1996 ) also exposes , “it is known with certainty that both in the time of the Republic and the Empire, the accounting was carried out by commoners, but not the activity that can be considered as the antecedent of that of auditor, the inspectors who they were commissioned in order to inventory and review the various assets that constituted Roman heritage. It is also known that these accountants and auditors constituted professional associations ”(S. Dill. The Roman Society).

Period between 453-1453 ne

During the period between 453-1453 ne, advances in accounting continue , including auxiliaries. However for [Gertz, 1996], they are the books of Francisco Datini(1366-1400 ne) those that show the image of double-entry accounting that involves, for the first time, equity accounts themselves; in effect, having invented the Profit and Loss account, the problem that merchants of this time had of not being able to keep their merchandise in a single account due to the fact that said effects had, logically, two prices, the of acquisition cost and sale cost, resulting in that the profit obtained made the Cash account appear with a difference in the entries of income and expenses, as a consequence of the aforementioned, but with the new account that collected the differences, Patrimonial accounts could be registered that followed the history of the merchandise and of the profits or losses obtained as a result of their traffic.

This accounting also presents the innovation that opened and closed operations biannually with a financial statement where the patrimony of the economic unit was clearly stipulated, reporting the result of the operations as the individual participation of the partners, which determined of the balance of personal accounts that was brought to each partner of the company.

XV century

Up the fifteenth century and with it two great events: The generalization of Arabic numerals and printing that would bring accounting, as well as other sciences, in a stage of disclosure. The book “Della mercatura et del mercanti perfetto”, whose author was Benedetto Cotingli Rangeo , who finished writing it on August 25 , 1458 , dates from that time and was published in 1573 .

Although the book touches accounting briefly, it explains in a very clear way the identity of the double entry, the use of three books: the Notebook (Mayor), Giornale (Diary) and Memoriale (Draft), affirms that the records are They will do it in the newspaper and from there they will go to the Mayor, who will have an index of accounts to facilitate their search, and that the situation of the company must be verified every year and a “Bilancione” [Balance] must be prepared; the losses and gains that it throws will be taken to Capital, it also speaks of the need to keep a copier of letters (Book of Minutes).

However, it is the Venetian monk Fray Lucas Pacioli , who in his book “Summa”, published in 1494 , refers to the accounting method, which has been known since then as “A lla Veneziana”. In detail, he touches on accounting and makes the first publication with the aim of spreading accounting knowledge, synthesizing accounting principles that still exist today, and also provides information on business practices: companies, sales, interests, letters of change, etc., then in other countries there would be publications that would broaden the topic.

XIX century

The nineteenth century arrives , and with it the Code of Napoleon ( 1808 ), the Industrial Revolution begins, Adam Smith and David Ricardo , take the roots of liberalism, accounting begins to have changes in substance and form, under the name of “Principles of Accounting “, in 1887 the” American Association of Public Accountants “is founded, before, in 1854 ” The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland “, in 1880 ” The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales “, similar organizations constitute France in 1881 ,Austria in 1885, Holland in 1895 , Germany in 1896 .

In the last century and as a result of the crisis of the 30s, in the United States , the American Institute of Public Accountants, organized academic and practical groups to assess the situation, from there emerged the first accounting principles, still in force many of them, others with modifications. Also, the crisis gave rise to the change of the “Certification” by the “Opinions” of the Financial Statements.

The following is a summary of the historical development of Accounting.

Currently, within what are business information systems, Accounting stands as one of the most notable and effective systems to publicize the various areas of information of production units or companies. The concept has evolved greatly, so that the degree of “specialization” of this discipline within the business environment is increasing.

Evolution of Accounting in Cuba

At the threshold of the third millennium, Cuba is in the process of perfecting its accounting regulations, with the aim of providing greater flexibility in its design, trying to achieve a strengthening in the role of accounting information as a real tool for systematic transformation. of information in action by business management, simultaneously covering the growing demands of external users. On the other hand, the need for the evolution of Cuban Accounting is largely conditioned by the convenience of homogenization with the accounting practice most widespread and applied in today’s globalized world, an essential element for the economic integration of Cuba to the universe of the international community.

According to the existing economic system in Cuba, the Cuban accounting regulation has a totally public character. The normalization of Cuban Accounting is based on legal provisions issued by various State organs and its Central Administration, as well as other state entities that have been issued by other state entities through Laws, Decree-Laws, Decrees and other provisions of the National Assembly of Popular Power (Cuban Parliament), the Council of State and the Council of Ministers; Resolutions and Instructions of the Ministry of Finance and Prices, the governing body of Accounting in the country; Resolutions and Instructions of Branch Ministries for compliance of companies and subordinate or sponsored agencies; complementary provisions of the Cuban Bank; etc.

It should be noted that the Cuban accounting regulation relies, both in its own conception and in its implementation and systematic development, in the country’s academic and scientific organizations in the professional sphere of Accounting, where the Universities play an active and leading role, becoming in the driving force of research in the different branches of Accounting within the country.

The Cuban accounting practice has a rich history that began in the late nineteenth century , consolidating in 1927 with the beginning of the Superior Accounting Studies at the historic University of Havana and during the Pseudo-Republic it achieved its greatest splendor in the decade of the 50s, coinciding with the emergence of Management Accounting .

In the period prior to 1959 , Cuban accounting standardization was highly influenced by North American accounting practice, which extends to our universities, where both in Financial Accounting, and in Cost and Management Accounting, bibliographies of Cuban and North American authors; which is still present in our university classrooms, with the difference that these authors are currently effectively combined with a wide range of books and articles from various corners of the world, where although it is true that Cuban and North American authors continue to predominate, each specialists from the accounting branches of Spain play a more leading role, a country that is joined by strong historical, cultural and increasingly growing ties of academic exchanges within the accounting branches and especially in Management Accounting.

It can be said that from 1959 , the changes that occurred in national life weakened the North American influence, and in the 1960s, due to the primacy of concepts later recognized as erroneous, the monetary-mercantile relations between companies disappeared. and virtually with them Accounting, which is limited to economic control.

Accounting regulation from 1959

The accounting regulations in the Island gave a radical change after the triumph of the Revolution .

Before 1959 , the company or business in the country was marked by private property, in such a way that almost 100 percent of the nation was actually privatized.

To this condition was added the fact that the national industry was incipient and the main companies operating within Cuban society were concentrated in the coffers of the transnational corporations.

Scholars on the subject have explained that a structure marked by small and medium-sized service companies, the vast majority of them of raw materials and agricultural products, operated at the time.

One of the specialists who deal with these accounting matters has emphasized that the mercantile norms – or the Commercial Code – of the pre-revolutionary era, was the mechanism that regulated only in general forms, the formal aspects of the Accounting of companies, complemented by current tax regulations.

In recent times, the most knowledgeable economists in the accounting field have always assured that Accounting really has a “social essence”. Perhaps this is not fully appreciated by the generality of the population, perhaps due to the fact that, as Saint Exupery assuredly stated in The Little Prince, “the essential is invisible to the eyes.”


Transit stages of Cuban accounting

  • The I of them covered from 1959 to 1976 , with the implementation of the System of Direction and Planning of the Economy (SDPE).

1st stage ( 1977 – 1986 ): Establishment of an Accounting system implemented by means of a document containing the economic content of the accounts to be used and the aspects for which it was debited and accredited; Information System; Rules and procedures; and illustrative examples. The practical application gave rise to multiple additions and modifications that brought negative effects such as: excess reporting models, the accounting record was prioritized according to the information needs of higher levels, the initiative of accountants is slowed down in order to comply with the management, the Study Plans in the universities in Management Accounting are highly influenced by the member countries of the CAME and they lack a set of tools focused on managerial decision making, etc.

  • The II stage took place from 1977 to 1992 , with the validity of that SDPE system,

2nd stage ( 1987 – 1992 ): Transformations aimed at the simplification of the National Accounting System (SNC) occur, accounts and subaccounts are suppressed, functions are decentralized and models and annexes of the Information System are rationalized. However, the language was not comparable with the one that prevailed at the international level, given the inheritance of Cuba’s participation in the CAME, which came into frank opposition to changes in the world context and the immediate and future projection of the economy. Cuban.

  • The III continues to this day.

3rd stage ( 1993- current): Great flexibility of the Cuban accounting practice, communication with foreign partners by adopting terminology that can be standardized with international accounting practice, the Business Improvement process begins in which the various branches of Accounting play an important role .

It would take too much space to argue the predominant characteristics in each of the stages. But it is true that during the Cuban revolutionary process —product of innumerable factors, such as the unforgivable imperialist blockade— in accounting regulation there have been moments of evolution and involution.

This has been in direct and indirect dependence on the economic, political and social conditions prevailing in each of the three stages.

Cuban accounting practice was reborn in 1975 , but now finding itself heavily influenced by accounting concepts that prevailed in the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe , as Cuba became part of the member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance ( CAME ). From that moment on, successive changes in Cuban Accounting begin, which can be framed in three successive stages of improvement:

It can be said that the General Accounting Model of Cuba does not yet represent a result, but a process of evolution in full swing.


Business Improvement

The Improvement BusinessIt is a process of continuous improvement of the internal management of the company, which makes it possible to systematically achieve high performance to produce goods or provide competitive services, with the fundamental objective of achieving company competitiveness, increasing efficiency and effectiveness, above the basis of granting it the faculties and establishing the policies, principles and procedures that promote the development of initiative, creativity and individual and collective responsibility. This process consists of several stages, among which the Diagnostic and the Dossier stand out, where after dividing the business organization into 16 subsystems (one of which is Accounting), the situation is analyzed in the first case actual presented by the company,

Business Improvement of the State Company

The Business Improvement of the State Company has the central objective of maximizing its efficiency and competitiveness, on the basis of granting it the faculties, and establishing the policies, principles and procedures that promote the development of initiative, creativity and responsibility of all bosses and workers.

The Business Improvement Process consists of seven steps, standing out for its importance:

  • The elaboration of the Business Diagnosis.
  • The preparation of the Business Improvement File.


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