Wired magazine online has put together an "Evolution of Office Spaces" which describes and depicts the different office layouts used since around 1904 and the start of Frederick Taylor's efficiency-and-oversight-come-before-employees Taylorism. You'll spot your 1980s-through-today cubicle farm in the list, as well as a forecast of where offices are headed in the future (the "networking" layout) with the increasing involvement of furniture designers. Another fun fact: Herman Miller, the company behind the ever-loved Eames chair, is to blame for the cubicle, less blandly referred to as the Action office:
Bürolandschaft inspired Herman Miller to create a product based on the new European workplace philosophy. Action was the first modular business furniture system, with low dividers and flexible work surfaces. It's still in production today and widely used. In fact, you probably know Action by its generic, more sinister name: cubicle.Who knew that so much thought went into those stale office layouts?