[SIGCIS-Members] Seeking Information on Adding Machines, Mechanical Calculators, etc. Designed and Used in the U.S. Prior to 1877

Deborah Douglas ddouglas at mit.edu
Fri Dec 23 11:56:22 PST 2022

We have one of those arithmeters in our collection<https://mitmuseum.mit.edu/collections/object/2006.004.001?query=arithmeter&resultIndex=0>.  Debbie Warner wrote a good article in the small journal Rittenhouse about this particular instrument.   Look for J.A.V. Turck’s 1921 “Origin of Modern Calculating Machines” and Ernst Martin’s “The Calculating Machines: Their History and Development” (1925 but translated and published by MIT in 1992.  Peggy Kidwell is the true expert on this subject!

Debbie Douglas

Deborah G. Douglas, PhD • Director of Collections and Curator of Science and Technology, MIT Museum; Research Associate, Program in Science, Technology, and Society • Room E28-320B • 314 Main Street • Gambrill Center • Cambridge, MA 02142 • ddouglas at mit.edu<mailto:ddouglas at mit.edu> • 617-253-1766 telephone • 617-253-8994 facsimile • http://mitmuseum.mit.edu • she/her/hers

From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of JoAnne Yates via Members <members at lists.sigcis.org>
Date: Friday, December 23, 2022 at 2:08 PM
To: Foster, David <davidfos at ttu.edu>, members at lists.sigcis.org <members at lists.sigcis.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Seeking Information on Adding Machines, Mechanical Calculators, etc. Designed and Used in the U.S. Prior to 1877
Hello, Dave—

On pp. 25-26 (and associated footnotes) of my book Structuring the Information Age: Life Insurance and Technology in the Twentieth Century, I talk about devices used by insurance firms and actuaries in the late 19th century, including the “Arithmeter” that American actuary Elizur Wright invented (based on European models) and began marketing to insurance firms in 1869. It didn’t compete well with its British rival, Tate’s Arithmometer, but some American insurance firms used it during this period.

Good luck on your paper,


JoAnne Yates
Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management, Emerita
Sloan School of Management
MIT E62-335
100 Main St.
Cambridge, MA 02142

From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> On Behalf Of Foster, David via Members
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2022 12:49 PM
To: members at lists.sigcis.org
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Seeking Information on Adding Machines, Mechanical Calculators, etc. Designed and Used in the U.S. Prior to 1877


I have the opportunity to do a research paper for a Spring term historiography course and I’d like to depart from the themes of the assigned readings and return to research in the realm of computing history. Given the chronological constraint of 1877 as the upper year, I can get just a bit into the beginning timeframe of James Cortada’s Before the Computer and had been thinking that devices like de Colmar’s Arithmometre (1820) must have made their way across the Atlantic and inspired some emulation or other ideas. The good people at the reference section of the LOC have given me some useful background and I’ve rec’d some valuable tips on patent search and organization methodologies. I have just started to search the patent history (calculators, adding machines, etc.), but any advice or insights on 19th century American “computing” from the group are greatly appreciated.

Happy Holidays & New Year!

Regards, Dave

Dave Foster
PhD Student
Department of History
Texas Tech University
davidfos at ttu.edu<mailto:davidfos at ttu.edu>
Learner | Intellection | Context | Ideation | Input

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/attachments/20221223/dfc431df/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: image001.png
Type: image/png
Size: 7602 bytes
Desc: image001.png
URL: <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/attachments/20221223/dfc431df/attachment.png>

More information about the Members mailing list