Today, money is any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits, that is used as a medium of exchange, measure of wealth or means of payment. About every country has a different official currency that was issued by the government, and is normally affected by the economy’s supply and demand, among many other reasons. However, money hasn’t always been the standard medium of exchange in the business sector and society as a whole.
Money has had a long history, and started at the crack of dawn in the very beginning of humankind. But unlike the people of this generation, the first people did not buy goods and services from other people with coins, bills, cheques or any of the forms of money that are used today. Instead, they exchanged their personal possessions of value for goods and services that they wanted in a process called barter. From 9000-6000 B.C., livestock was commonly used as a unit of exchange. As agriculture improved, crops began to be used as well. Though barter is never really used in today’s economics, it is still present among family, friends, acquaintances, and even loved ones.
At about 1200 B.C. in China, cowry shells became the first type of money. Several centuries later, metal tools such as knives and spades, were also used as a medium of exchange. Eventually, round coins were introduced, with the first ones being made out of base metals that had holes to allow people to make chains out of them.
At around 500 B.C., coins started to be made with silver, and began to look more and more like the coins of today. They were imprinted with a wide variety of gods and emperors to mark their value. These coins were first used in Turkey but were later enhanced by the Greek, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, using rare metals including bronze, silver, and gold.
In 118 B.C., leather money made its debut in China, becoming the first kind of paper money. They were one-foot square pieces of white deerskin with vivid colours and were usually exchanged for goods.
In 1500 A.D., Native Indians in North America practised potlatch, which was the exchanging of gifts at various sacred rituals. It was more for distinguishing the statuses of community leaders than anything else. Several years later, strings of beads made from clam shells became used as money by the Natives.
By 1816, England established the “Gold Standard,” meaning that the value of currency was pegged to a certain number of gold. This would help to prevent the inflation of currency.
Because of the Great Depression during the 1930’s, the U.S. strived to end the linking of gold to currency, influencing other countries to do the same. Today, only a few nations follow the tying of currency to gold and many government and financial institutions try to control inflation.
As a result, money has undergone tremendous changes and improvements throughout history. It is believed to be the cornerstone of happiness, wealth, and status, and is making the world go round with its ability to almost direct and manage the lives of individuals. It is one of the main reasons why big-name companies and businesses continue to sell their goods and services. It is one of the main reasons why people pursue an education and enter the workforce. And it is ultimately the reason for the presence the media.
Money is a powerful thing, no doubt about it, with it almost shaping and moulding the entire future of mankind. Some say that the tomorrow of money is already here, as the invention of electronic money or digital cash is already being widely used by Internet shoppers around the globe. Some say that money should come in second place and that society should place more emphasis towards issues such as global warming, diseases, illiteracy, poverty, instability, and social justice. But who’s to say what the future would hold than you yourself and the choices you make that would ultimately affect the sociocultural evolution of civilization?
Works Cited: “The History OF Money.” Moneypalooza. 17 May 2009. 17 May 2009 <http://library.thinkquest.org/28718/history.html>.
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