Adding Machines -- Resources


An image displaying several adding machines from the Division of Medicine and Science.


Other adding machines are found scattered in the NMAH collections. The mathematics collection also has collections of adders, bookkeeping machines, and calculating machines, which are described separately. Notable collections of adding machines include those of the CNAM in Paris, the Science Museum in London, and the Arithmeum in Bonn. Numerous other repositories, as well as individuals, have one or more important machines.

Useful sources for the study of adding machines include trade literature produced by manufacturers and trade journals such as Typewriter Topics and Office Equipment Topics (later Business Equipment Topics). Several volumes produced for office machine dealers are also of help. Museum catalogs, scattered articles, and a few books offer useful perspectives. This list is limited to publications discussing products of several companies. Specific references are also given in discussions of individual machines.

American Office Machines Research Service, [Descriptions of Office Machines], vol. 3, New York: Office Machines Research, Inc., 1937-1939.

D. Baxandall, revised Jane Pugh, Calculating Machines and Instruments, South Kensington: Science Museum, 1975.

Business Machines and Equipment Digest, Chicago: Equipment Research Corporation, 1928.

Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Instruments et Machines a Calculer, Paris: 1942.

J. W. Cortada, Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, & the Industry they Created 1865-1956, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.

P. A. Kidwell, “The Adding Machine Fraternity at St. Louis: Creating a Center of Invention, 1880-1920,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 22 #2 (April-June 2000), pp. 4–21.

P.A. Kidwell, “’Yours for Improvement’: The Adding Machines of Chicago, 1884-1930,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 23 #3 (Jul-Sept 2001), pp. 3–21.

J. H. McCarthy, The American Digest of Business Machines, Chicago: American Exchange Service, 1924.

J. Marguin, Histoire des instruments et machines à calculer, Paris: Hermann, 1994.

E. Martin, The Calculating Machines (Die Rechenmaschinen), trans. P.A. Kidwell and M.R. Williams, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992.

J. A. V. Turck, Origin of Modern Calculating Machines, Chicago: Western Society of Engineers, 1921.

Online resources are ever-changing. In addition to the web sites of the institutions listed, useful information is available at:

The Early Office Museum -

Rechnerlexikon - An online encyclopedia on mechanical calculation, largely in German –

An online version of Martin’s book cited above, with added illustrations, is at

The web site of the IBM Archives included the “IBM Attic” which has images of several machines. See