The influence of engineers on the development of cost accounting in the closing decades of last century has been well recognized. The influence of economists, the retarding effects of an obsession with industrial secrecy, and some curious effects of competition and the lack of it have not been fully explored. These matters are examined in this paper, together with some of the consequences of the efficiency movement, as seen in the costing system developed by Alexander Hamilton Church. The strengths and weaknesses of present-day cost accounting are related to this early period of development.

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