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Antique Adding and Calculating Machines

Adders and Small Calculating Devices

Eastern_European_Office_with_Abacus.jpg (115215 bytes)
20th Century Eastern European Office with Two Abacuses

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a large number of relatively inexpensive machines were marketed to businesses and others for use in performing simple addition and subtraction. In principle, these adders and other devices could also be used for multiplication by repetitive addition and for division by repetitive subtraction. Numbers were typically entered by using a stylus to move a dial or slide. Most of the handheld devices sold for $5 to $25. Two simple desktop machines were $35 and $50.

To be precise, some of the devices shown here are not adders. Peggy Kidwell, "Adders Made and Used in the United States," Rittenhouse 1994, pp. 78-98, states: "An a computing device that has parts moved to record the results of arithmetic problems but that does not actually contain a mechanism to do arithmetic....Those who made and sold adders often called them adding machines, calculating machines, or personal calculators. At the same time, some machines sold as adders were in fact adding machines." See also P. Kidwell, "'Yours for Improvement'--The Adding Machines of Chicago, 1884-1930," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, July-Sept. 2001, pp. 3-21.

Handheld and Other Small Devices Image
Click to Enlarge
Wilhelm Schickard Calculator (replica)
1623_Wilhelm_Schickard_Calculator_replica_front.JPG (54356 bytes)
19th Century
19th_century_French_calculator_2.jpg (39486 bytes)
La Multi Calculator
19th Century
19th_century_French_calculator_La_Multi_4.jpg (24396 bytes)
Nystrom's Calculator
Invented 1848 ~ Patented 1851 ~ Advertised 1851-52
J. W. Nystrom
Philadelphia, PA
Based on logarithms, but promoted for use in addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division. 
"The merchant will find this calculating machine to be all they desire."
$10, $15, and $20 models in $1852.
1851_J_W_Nystroms_Calculating_Machine.jpg (132245 bytes)
Hatfield Adder
Patented 1854
A. L. Hatfield
Lewisburg, PA
Fowler's Patent Adding Machine
Patented July 14, 1863 by George B. Fowler ~ Advertised 1863, reported to be on market 1869
Geo. B. Fowler & Co., Chicago, IL, and New York, NY
Fowler Adding Machine Co., New York, NY
1863 Price $5
"The Book-Keeper and Accountant's Friend.  Used in the counting house for adding up columns in the ledger."
The Universal Adding Machine, patented 1890 by Geo. B. Fowler, advertised 1892 and c. 1897, and sold by the 
Universal Adding Machine Co., NY, NY, for $8, was an improvement with essentially same appearance.
Slide bar adder
MBHT_1869_Fowlers_adding_machine_Pat_1863.jpg (213330 bytes)
1869 ad.
Courtesy of the Museum of Business History and Technology

1863_Fowlers_Adding_Machine_OM.jpg (37659 bytes)

Fowlers_Adding_Machine_metal_front.JPG (93743 bytes)
Webb Adder
Patented 1868 & 1889  ~ Introduced 1868 ~ Advertised 1869-70 & 1889-93
C. H. Webb, New York, NY (1868-69)
Webb Adding Machine Co., New York, NY (1869)
Webb's Adder Co., New York, NY (1890-91)
1869 Price $6-$10; 1890-92 Price $7
"It carries up the columns of a ledger account, two at a time, with speed and mechanical accuracy." (1869 ad)
The model advertised in 1869 (top photo at right) was based on the 1868 patent.
The model advertised in 1889-91 (lower photo at right) was a modification based on the 1889 patent.
1868_Webb_Adder_OM.jpg (45293 bytes)
Patented 1868
1889_Webb_Adder_ofc-pro.jpg (32910 bytes)
Patented 1889
Courtesy Larry Wilhelm
Improved Calculator
Patented 1868
Conkey & Loomis, Springfield, MA
Peggy Aldrich Kidwell reports that an example of this circular adder is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
No image available.
Walker's Adding Machine, the Addist
Advertised 1869
R. H. Walker
New York, NY
Insert Image
LOC 2/12/09
Groesbeck's Calculating Machine
Patented 1870
Ziegler & McCurdy
Philadelphia, PA
Top photograph courtesy of Larry Wilhelm

Groesbecks_Calculating_Machine_ad.JPG (37869 bytes)
Perfection Adding Machine (a.k.a. Universal Adding Machine, Stephenson Adding Machine)
Patented 1873 ~ Advertised 1890-1929
Whiton Mfg. Co., Buffalo, NY (Stephenson's,1890)
Fowler & Wells Co., New York, NY (1893, 1898)
M. E. Oakley, Cincinnati, OH (1896)
W. B. Clark Manufacturing Co., Cincinnati, OH (1899)
Cincinnati Specialty Mfg. Co., Cincinnati, OH
A. M. Stephenson, Beardstown, IL
Stephenson & Co., Joliet, OH (1899)
A. M. Stephenson, Joliet, OH
1893-99 Price $1.50; 1902 Price $0.98 (Sears)
Cogged wheel disk-type adder
The Mindling Vest Pocket Adding Machine, patented in 1926 and manufactured by G. N. Mindling, Pittsburgh, PA, is virtually identical.  It sold for $1.85.
1873_Adder_A_M_Stephenson_Beardstown_IL.jpg (12404 bytes)
A.M. Stephenson, Beardstown, IL

1873_Stephenson_Adder_front.jpg (28909 bytes)
A.M. Stephenson, 
Joliet, IL. Also made
with nickel-plating
Baldwin's Arithmometer
Frank S. Baldwin
MBHT_Baldwin_Arithmometer.jpg (256925 bytes)
Courtesy of the Museum of Business History and Technology.
C. L Chambon
1876_TACHYLEMME_C.L_Chambon.jpg (20609 bytes)
Field's Adding and Counting Register
Patented 1878 ~ Advertised 1884-87
Clague, Wegman, Schlicht & Field (1884)
Clague, Schlicht, & Field (c.1885)
Schlicht & Field (1887)
Rochester, NY
c. 1885 Price $2
1878_Fields_Adding_and_Counting_Register_Clague_Schlict__Field_Rochester_NY_c._1883_ad.jpg (46601 bytes)
Replace image Office 12/87
Hart's Mercantile Computing Machine
Patented 1878
Scovill Mfg. Co.
Waterbury, CT
1878_HARTS_MERCANTILE_COMPUTING_MACHINE_Made_by_the_Scoville_Mfg_Co_OM.jpg (29772 bytes)
Champion Adding Machine
Advertised 1881
Underwood & Co.
Grand Rapids, MI
No image available
Spalding Adding Machine (a.k.a. Surprise Adder)
Patented 1874-84 ~ Advertised 1887, 1890, 1898
C. G. Spalding,Springfield, MA (1887)
J. R. Anderson & Co, Nassau, NY (1890)
The Surprise Co., New Haven, CT (1898)
1898 Price $12.50
1874_1884_Spalding_Adding_Machine_C_C_Spalding_Springfield_MA.jpg (71133 bytes)
1874_1884_Spalding_Adding_Machine_instructions_C_C_Spalding_Springfield_MA.jpg (51569 bytes)
Madden Adding Machine (a.k.a. Bouchet Adding Machine)
Patented 1882-85 ~ Advertised 1887-1890 (Madden)
M. F. Madden & Co., U.S. (1887)
W. Mann & Son, New York, NY (1890)
1887 Price $15
Bouchet_Adding_Machine_Bob_Otnes.jpg (62722 bytes)
Bouchet Adding Machine
Courtesy of Bob Otnes
Add image from Office 1/87
Ribbon Adder
Invented 1886  ~ Patented by Charles Henry Webb 1891 ~ Advertised 1893
The Ribbon Adder
New York, NY
1893 Price $15
Continuous band adder
1893_Ribbon_Adder_x_OM.JPG (87719 bytes)
Hand Tallying Register (a.k.a. Benton's Tally Register)
Benton Mfg. Co., New York, NY
Advertised 1889, 1913, 1930
1913_Bentons_Tally_Register.jpg (54620 bytes)
Replace with image from Office 2/89
Adding Register
Listed in product directory 1890
Office Specialty Mfg Co, Rochester, NY
No image available
Landin's Computer (a.k.a. Rapid Computer, Comptator, B.U.G.)
Patented 1892 ~ Advertised 1890-1895 (Landin's Computer), 
1901-15 (Rapid Computer), 1927 (Comptator, advertised in Germany)
Landin Computer Co, Minneapolis, MN (1890-95)
Rapid Computer Co., Minneapolis, MN (1901-06), Benton Harbor, MI (1906-15),
Baker-Vawter Co., Benton Harbor, MI
Hans Sabielny, Dresden, Germany (c. 1920s)
Schubert & Salzer, Chemnitz, Germany (c. 1920s)
1902-15 Price $25
"Thousands in use" claimed in 1915 ad. (System, Mar. 1915
Slide-chain adder operated with stylus
See Kidwell (2001)
 1920s_Comptator_Hans_Sabielny_Dresden_Germany.JPG (34224 bytes)
Patented 1891 ~ Advertised 1891-92, 1903
American Adding Machine Co.
Atlanta, GA
"Saves Brain Fag" (1903)
Centigraph_Adding_Machine_OM.jpg (98581 bytes)
Patented 1893 ~ Marketed sometime in the 1890s
Gubelman Manufacturing Co.
Buffalo, NY
1893_Addometer_Pat_1893_Gubelman_Mfg_Co_Buffalo.JPG (80890 bytes)
Perfection Adder
Patented 1894
Atlanta Novelty Manufacturing Co.
Atlanta, GA
1894_Perfection_Adder_Atlanta_Novelty_Mfg_Co_Atlanta_GA_OM.jpg (84690 bytes)
Perfection Self-Adding Ruler
Patented 1895
Columbia Novelty Co.
New York, NY
1895_Perfection_Self-Adding_Ruler_Columbia_Nov._Co_Mfgers_NY_OM1.JPG (41294 bytes)
1895_Perfection_Self-Adding_Ruler_Columbia_Nov._Co_Mfgers_NY_OM2.JPG (67791 bytes)

1895_Perfection_Self-Adding_Ruler_Columbia_Nov._Co_Mfgers_NY_OM3.JPG (43430 bytes)
Biglow's Adding Register (a.k.a. Bigelow Adding Register)
Patented 1897 ~ Advertised 1899-1900
M. H. Biglow, Ontario, NY (1899)
Bigelow Bros., Ontario, NY (1900)
1899 Price $1.50
1897_Biglows_Adding_Register_1899_ad.jpg (22101 bytes)
Goldman's Arithmachine (a.k.a. Goldman's Arithstyle, Contostyle)
Introduced 1898 ~ Patented 1899-1910 ~ Advertised 1898-1900
Office Men's Record Co., Chicago, IL (1898-99)
International Arithmachine Co., Chicago, IL (1899-1902)
Gesellschaft für Maschinenbau GmbH, Berlin, Germany (c. 1905-1911)
Arithstyle Co., New York, NY (System, Sept. 1913)
c.1899 Price $24-$48
Chain-driven adder
See Kidwell (2001)
MBHT 1898 Goldman Arithmachine.jpg (233363 bytes)
Goldman's Arithmachine, illustration from 1898 instruction book.  Courtesy of the Museum of Business History and Technology.
Arithstyle_aae.jpg (38543 bytes)
Patent Dates 1899-1910
The Adder (a.k.a. Lightning Adding Machine, Lightning Calculator, Victor Adder, Victor Calculator, Beach Adder)
Patented 1889 ~ Advertised 1900-02
The Book-Keeper Publishing Co., Ltd., Detroit, MI
1900-01 Price $3-$5, 1902 Price $4.
This device is virtually identical, if not identical, to (1) the Webb Adder that is based on the 1889 patent; 
(2) the Adder advertised by E. R. Beach, New York, NY, in 1896 for $5, which also sold for $3.50; 
and (3) the Victor Adder or Calculator advertised by A. A. Weeks Mfg. Co., New York, NY, in 1905-10 for $5.
1889_Lightning_Calculator_advertised_1900-01.JPG (59204 bytes)
Lightning Adding Machine
1906_Beach_Adder_OM.jpg (88488 bytes)
Beach Adder
Locke Adder
Patented 1901-05 ~ Advertised 1900-08
C. E. Locke Manufacturing Co., Kensett, IA
1901-05 Price $5; 1906 Price $5 (oxidized copper finish) and $10 (oxidized silver finish with case); 1908 Price $5 & $10
Slide bar adder
The similar Excelsior Adding Machine was advertised in 1904-05 by the McCarthy Mfg. Co., Parkersburg, IA. (System, 1904)
Locke_Adder_x_OM.JPG (63431 bytes)

Locke_Adder_reddish.JPG (64543 bytes)
McComber's Instantaneous Calculator
Advertised 1903-04
McComber Calculator Co., Chicago, IL (1903)
Instantaneous Calculator, Chicago, IL (1904)
1903 Price $0.50, 1904 Price $1
Cardboard disks with a pointer.
Insert image from System 1904
1903-05 ~ Advertised 1910
Adix Co., Pallweber & Bordt 
Mannheim, Germany
Adix_1903-05_Pallweber__Bordt_Mannheim_Germany.JPG (31080 bytes)
Patented 1901 ~ Advertised 1903-14
The Morse & Walsh Co., Trenton NJ (Walsh was the inventor)
Herbert North Morse, Trenton, NJ
Made with 5 to 12 dials.  A 5-dial machine was $10.  
Each additional dial cost $5, so the 12-dial machine was $45.
Stylus-driven cogged wheel adder. 35 models in 1907.
"Over 25,000 in use on Jan. 1, 1907." 1908-10 ads claimed "55,000 satisfied users."  1910 ads also claimed "60,000 in use."
1911 ads claimed 70,000 sold. 1913 ad claimed 100,000 users.
At some point, a reset dial was added, and the machine was sold as the Standard Desk Calcumeter.
Calcumeter_dfgsd.jpg (18447 bytes)
Omega Calculating Machine
Justin Bamberger
Munich, Germany
1904_Omega_Calculating_Machine_Justin_Bamberger_Munich.JPG (177398 bytes)
Betts Adder
Marketed 1905
The Betts Adder& Manufacturing Co.
Detroit, MI
Dial adding machine operated with a stylus.
No image available.
Bonham Adding and Calculating Machine
Patented 1905 ~ Marketed 1905
Bonham & Schram
Chicago, IL
1905_B__S_Improved_Calculator_Bonham__Schram_Chicago.jpg (12241 bytes)
Platt Keyless
Marketed 1905
Platt Keyless Adding Machine Co.
Cleveland, OH
No image available
Automatic Adding Machine
(a.k.a. Gem Adding Machine, Golden Gem Portable Adding Machine)
Patented 1904-07 ~ Marketed "Since 1904" ~ Advertised 1906-41
Automatic Adding Machine Co., NY, NY
The Automatic and the Gem were sold at the same time.  The $15 Gem 
had a resetting device while the $10 Automatic did not.
Number of columns ranged from 5 to 9, or perhaps more widely.
1906-18 Price $10-$15. 1909 Price with wood case $25, 1910 Price with wood case $20. 1924 Price $15-$25.
Slide-chain adder. 
1907-08 ads stated, "Over 15,000 in use." 1913-14 ads stated, "Over 80,000 in use." 1915-18 ads stated, "Over 100,000 in use."(System, Jan. 1915.)
MBHT_Golden_Gem_Adding_Machine_Auto_Adding_Machine_Co_NYC.jpg (354302 bytes)
Courtesy of the Museum of Business History and Technology
Golden_Gem_ss.jpg (106027 bytes)
8 columns
1904_1907_Gem_Adding_Machine_Wood_Case_OM.jpg (79031 bytes)
Wood case, 1909-10
Gem_Adding_Machine_Automatic_Adding_Machines_NY_NY_OM.jpg (38703 bytes)
5 columns
Eagle Adding Machine
Patented 190x ~ Advertised 1906
Eagle Adding Machine Co.
New York, NY
1906 Price $5
The 1906 ad shows a patent date of 190_ (last digit illegible)
1906_Eagle_Adding_Machine_ad_OM.jpg (49131 bytes)
Century Pocket Register
Advertised 1905-06
The Century Register Co., Port Huron, MI
1905 Price $0.25
1906_Century_Pocket_Register_ad.jpg (71883 bytes)
Dilworth Adder
Advertised 1906
Dilworth Adder Co., Pittsburg, PA
1906 Price $1
1906_Dilworth_Adder_Pittsburgh_PA.jpg (89669 bytes)
Jeffers Calculator
Advertised 1908
H. W. Jeffers
Plainsboro, NJ
1908_Jeffers_Calculator_adv_om.jpg (200189 bytes)
Thatcher's Calculating Instrument
Advertised 1908
Keuffel & Esser Co.
Chicago, IL 
1908 Price $35
Advertised for multiplication and division.
Image coming
Testimonials dated 1908-09 ~ Advertised 1910
The James J. Hinde Co.
Cleveland, OH
The calculus was a form of slide rule, which used logarithms to carry out multiplication and division. It was advertised in business publications and was used by at least some companies.
Calculus_ad_OM.jpg (54234 bytes)
Bassett Adder (a.k.a. Clark's New Adder, )
Advertised 1909-38
Glenn C. Clark Manufacturing Co., Chicago, IL (1909) (Clark's New Adder)
Commercial Specialty Agency, Chicago, IL (1910) ($1.00 Adder)
J. H. Bassett & Co., Chicago, IL (Bassett, 1910-17, 1935)
Timesaver Co., Chicago, IL (Speed, 1911)
Johnson Smith & Co., Racine, WI (Bassett, 1926, 1938)
1910 Price $1 (Bassett, $1.00 Adder), 1911 Price $1-$3.75 (Bassett), $1 (Speed)
1914-15 Price $2-$3.50 (Bassett), 1938 Price $3.75
Continuous band adder.
At the beginning of 1915, an ad claimed "Many thousands sold." (System, Jan. 1915.)
Bassett_adder_different_model.jpg (56874 bytes)

Bassett_Adder_J.H._Bassett__Co_Chicago_x_OM.jpg (40657 bytes)
Optima Calculator
1910 (?)
Albert Hauff (distributor?)
1910_Adding_Machine_Albert_Hauff_Halensee_Berlin_Germany.jpg (103446 bytes)
Lightning Calculator
Advertised 1913
Phelps Specialty Co.
Caro, MI
1913 Price $5
[Insert photo of common Lightning adder]
[See below for 1947 model.]
Graber Adder
Advertised 1911
Graber Calculating Machine Co.
New York, NY
1911 Price $15
1911_Graber_Adder_adx.jpg (21473 bytes)
Bri-Cal Calculator
Exhibited 1914 in Scotland
British Calculator, Ltd.
The_British_Calculators_Ltd._the_Brical_-_for_compound_addition.jpg (28575 bytes)

British_Calculator_Ltd_Model_C.JPG (56095 bytes)
Model C
Sold 1915
The Calculator Corp.
Grand Rapids, MI
Calculator_Corp_Grand_Rapids_MI.jpg (53190 bytes)
Ray Subtractor-Adder (a.k.a. Ray Adding Machine, Figuraytor)
Advertised  1916-24
Ray Subtractor-Adder Co., Richmond, VA (1916-17)
Ray Adding Machine Co., NY, NY (1920-24) 
1916 Price $15. 1917-24 Price $25.
Stylus-driven cogged wheel adder
1916_Ray_Subtracto-Adder_OM.jpg (24528 bytes)
Rays_Adding_Machine_OM.JPG (28355 bytes)
Addo Adding Machine
Malmo, Sweden
1918_Addo_adding_machine_OM.jpg (79312 bytes)
Small Pocket Calculator
Patented 1918
Small Calculator Co.
Waltham, MA
MBHT_Small_Pocket_Calculator.jpg (118405 bytes)
MBHT_Small_Pocket_Calculator_2.jpg (91051 bytes)
Images courtesy of the Museum of Business History and Technology
[Add photo MBHT folder]
Lightning Adding Machine
Sold 1947
The Lightning Adding Machine Co. Inc.
Los Angeles, CA
Lightning_adding_machine_dated_on_back_1947.JPG (55500 bytes)

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