I need to know when the mandate to maintain a logbook started. Was it a US requirement, or was it from another regulator in the world? Did the aircraft logbook start at the same time as the pilot logbook?
Similar to several other terms (e.g. port and starboard), the logging formats came from the shipping industry. Ship used to have detailed logs about their voyages.
Smithsonian states in an article:
In a logbook from 1913, a pilot penned on one page the date of a flight, airplane used, passenger’s name, time aloft, and course flown. On the opposite page, he recorded height achieved, distance, weather, and remarks.
The above-mentioned article also tells:
The Wright brothers kept detailed notebooks, recording dispassionately the results of their experiments in building the first airplane.
In the US, pilots are required to document their flights in logbooks if they want to use the hours toward certification requirements. (14 CFR 61.51). The only time when one should not log time is if the flight time would normally be considered illegal compensation; in such cases, the pilot can make the flight legal by not logging the time, but these unlogged hours will not be counted toward requirements for certificates.