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Awesome Vintage Calculators

Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

Highly desirable objects of technological genius!
(this article is NOT about the new iPhone 5, sorry)

These days it seems like there’s another new gadget every other week, whether it’s a phone, handheld device, tablet computer, laptop or some other hi-tech innovation. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days when everyone was getting the latest pocket calculator, marveling at the technology of these machines when they came into the mainstream back in the seventies. This time at Dark Roasted Blend, we take a look at some calculators from years gone by.

We already wrote at length about beautiful and intricate Curta calculators, but here is something even more impressive - made back in 1788:

(image credit: Florian, all rights reserved)

(images via "History of Computers")

The calculating machines of Johann Helfrich Müller look more like Victorian Time Machines than calculators!

(image credit: Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum, Paderborn, Germany)

Johann Helfrich von Müller (January 16, 1746 – 1830) "was an engineer in the Hessian army who conceived the Difference Engine in 1786". He has also designed - among other things - a large and powerful burning mirror, a sun clock, an air pump, an air gun, a barometer, a range finder device, etc. Read his biography here.

Such a marvelously detailed, delicate and rare device! Read more about the machine and how it worked here:

(image credit: Nick Stahlkocher, via)

The W. T. Odhner arithmometer from 1890, manufactured in St. Petersburg - part of the extensive collection of Sergei Frolov who tries to raise money to create Soviet Digital Electronics Museum:

(image credit: Sergei Frolov, Soviet Digital Electronics Museum)

The Adall Calculator was manufactured in England from around 1910 and into the 1920s:

(images courtesy John wolff's Web Museum)

Also from England, the Adder single-column adding machine was first seen around 1902 (left image)... and on the right you can see the Comptator adding machine, made in Germany in the twenties:

(images courtesy John wolff's Web Museum)

This is a 1920s Monroe High Speed Adding Calculator, although it was doubtless pretty slow when compared to today’s technology:

(image credit: Mark Wahl)

Here’s another couple of machines made by Monroe in a bygone era:

(images credit: Cleo McCall, Don Juan Tenorio)

A few advertisements for Monroe Adding Calculators, seen in the LIFE magazine in the 1940s:

(Monroe Adding Calculator, via LIFE Magazine)

The Baby Calculator was first manufactured in Chicago in 1929 and this one dates from about 1940:

(images credit: Kees Nagtegaal, Computer History Museum)

The Remington Rand Calculator model 73P was common in the early fifties (advertised as "Weapon Against Time"):

(image credit: Gerson Lessa)

How about this Contex Mechanical Adding Machine from Denmark in 1955? (left) - on the right is the Olympia RAE 4-15:

(images credit: Gerson Lessa, Daniel Sancho)

Also from the fifties, the Peter Pan Adding Machine was made in England and was set up to complete decimal calculations:

(images credit: John wolff, Slide Rule Museum)

Right image above is the Addiator from Germany, a "flat mechanical hand-held 'Troncet Type' mechanical calculator" introduced in 1920.

This Exactus calculator was designed for the old sterling currency used in the UK until its replacement by decimal currency in 1971 (left), and another Addiator:

(images credit: Kees Nagtegaal, Mechanicalculator)

Here is the Russian version of the Addiator, called "The Progress":

"Feliks-M" was the type of Russian mechanical calculators based on original 1890s arithmometers:

(image credit: George Shuklin)

Not a wizard at math? You could always make use of the Wizard calculating machine shown here on the left:

(left image credit: Mike Perl, England; right - via)

The right image above shows a t-shirt you can order to advertise your love of vintage calculating machines, order it here.

This Soviet calculator was made by Electronika. Models similar to these were apparently the sole brand of calculators sold and used throughout the country back then (left). The Elka 103 Bulgarian calculator dates from the seventies (right):

(images via 1, Richie Wisbey)

Here’s the 1961 Facit C1-13 mechanical calculator:

(image credit: www.scientificcollectables.com)

The Victor 3900 Electronic Desktop Calculator is from later in the same decade.

(image via Vintage Electronics)

Machines such as this full keyboard model made by Burroughs were seen in many offices and other commercial premises, until eventually replaced by electronic printing calculators in the 1970s. This one was designed for calculations in the UK’s pre-decimal sterling currency:

(images via Vintage Calculators, John wolf, History of Computers)

This family of Burroughs Portable 1957 Class 5 has some nicely rounded shapes:

(image via)

Here are some programmable desktop calculators, the Canon Canola 1614P (top left), the Compucorp 425G (top right), the Casio model 121-E desk calculator made in 1973 (bottom left), and the Rockwell 940 machine which was commonplace in the seventies too (bottom right):

(images credit: Daniel Sancho, Mike, Calculator Museum)

Your own portable math expert, the Little Professor quizzing calculator was first seen in 1976 (left). On a similar theme, here’s the WIZ-A-TRON electronic teaching calculator from around the same time (right):

(images credit: www.oaktreevintage.com, The Strong Online Collections)

If you only had a thin or narrow pocket in which to keep your calculator, Texas Instruments sold this model in the late seventies:

(image credit: www.oaktreevintage.com)

Need to write and add things up at the same time? How about the Calcu-pen from the mid seventies?

(image credit: Cleo McCall)

If you didn’t have room in your pocket for a calculator, why not wear one on your wrist? -

(image via)

Alternatively, there was this HUGE - literally fridge-size! - calculator from 1951, made by IBM:

(image via)

This boy from 1860 sells the abacus "calculators" (remember these?) in St. Petersburg. Soon electronic calculators, together with the abacus and other vintage adding device, will join a collectible (and pretty much extinct) niche of obsolete technology, so it is a good idea to hang on to a few still surviving examples -

(photo by William Carrick, via)



Article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

you forgot slide rules:)

Anonymous Darth said...

Interestingly enough the Burroughs machines were made by the same family that the legendary author William S. Burroughs was from!

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Slide rules require their own article!

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

William S. Burroughs, eh? Interesting.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You missed the Curta...


Blogger Avi Abrams said...

We wrote an article on Curta - check it out - http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/09/stunningly-intricate-curta-mechanical.html

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the Russian "sčot" calculator? Known all over the East bloc...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the Friden line of calculators and adding machines? They had the only mechanical calculator that could automatically calculate square roots! They also had one of the earliest successful electronic calculators.


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