Measuring devices have gone from a folding ruler, to a tape measurer
-- and then -- the new electronic digital read-out type.
The digital tape measurer I had came from Starrett called the DigiTape. It could read in imperial and metric, the readout would flip for up-side-down reading. It would even memorize three dimensions to play back later. (The courier industry uses it to calculate the volume of boxes, and it even has a computer connection to put the measurement directly into package information.)
Then there was the recorder tape measurer called the Repeater. It will play back your own voice when you need to remember what you measured, from Zircon.