Early in American history, it was not uncommon for people to use almanacs as day planners. Many of the founding fathers, including George Washington, would buy almanacs and then add their own blank pages to serve as a diary and record of their daily activities.
The first book that was specifically marketed for use as a day planner was published in Philadelphia in 1773 by Robert Aitken. It was called Aitken’s General American Register, and the Gentleman’s and Tradesman’s Complete Annual Account Book and Calendar, for the Pocket or Desk for the Year of our Lord 1773, and was unsuccessful in the publishing world. Nevertheless, by 1850 day planners and their various incarnations (diaries, scrapbooks, ledgers, account books, etc.) were extremely popular.
In 1900, business innovator John Wanamaker decided to produce day planners with his store catalog and advertisements from other companies. These planners became very widespread and were a contributing factor to Wanamaker’s business success.
Today day planners are still extremely popular. Although sales of paper planners are dropping, sales of electronic planners are strong, and there are still many organizations that successfully market day planners to the American public.