When did “Dear” become acceptable in business writing?

I would consider myself old, but not ancient. Over the hill certainly. When did the world decide that “dear” was an acceptable opener for business communications?

Back when I was in school, it was drilled into us that it was NEVER acceptable in business writing and why should it be? The CFO isn’t dear to me, I don’t know him. It’s patronizing and inappropriate at best. I was always taught “Mrs. Smith:” was the accepted style.

Old man yells at cloud aside, am I coming across as brusque or rude if I submit a cover letter not calling the hiring manager “dear”? I’d love to get some takes from the younger folks as well as my peers that are likely to end up in the nursing home with me.

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