Adding MachinesFull-Keyboard – Burroughs
William Seward Burroughs (ca 1855-1898), the son of a machinist in upstate New York, spent some years working as a clerk before moving to St. Louis and taking up invention. From 1884, he attracted investors to aid in his development of a printing adding machine. By 1890, he had patented a machine and sent it out on trial. By the mid-1890s, the American Arithmometer Company of St. Louis was actively selling the Burroughs Registering Accountant, as they called the machine. As early as 1898 it established a factory in Britain to produce for the European market.
In 1904, American Arithmometer Company moved to Detroit. The next year, it took the name Burroughs Adding Machine Company. In the course of the early 20th century, the company made and sold a wide range of adding machines. It vigorously defended its own patent rights, and purchased those of such rival companies as Pike, Universal, and Moon-Hopkins. Burroughs also hired inventors who successfully modified its products over the years. The Patent Department maintained a collection of models, both of Burroughs inventions and of rival machines. A handful of Burroughs machines also were exhibited at the Smithsonian.
In the 1950s, Burroughs abandoned manufacture of full keyboard adding machines in favor of ten-key devices built on patents of the British Summit adding machine. Burroughs Corporation inventors devoted attention to electronic computers, but did not attempt to design electronic calculators. In 1963 it gave many of the models and machines from its Patent Department collection to the Smithsonian. The company merged with Sperry Rand Corporation in 1986 to form Unisys Corporation.
"Adding Machines - Full-Keyboard – Burroughs" showing 1 items.
- This is a very early example of the printing full-keyboard adding machine invented by William Seward Burroughs. It was manufactured in St. Louis by the American Arithmometer Company. This firm later moved to Detroit and changed its name to the Burroughs Adding Machine Company.
- The machine has a ferrous metal case, painted black, with maple sides and front. A burled maple veneer covers part of the sides and front. The portion of the case under the keyboard is covered with green cloth. The nine columns of black plastic keys have nine keys apiece. Extended springs serve as decimal markers between columns. Another key stem is at the middle of the base of the keyboard and a lever is to the left. The mechanism is largely ferrous metal, with some brass parts. It includes a dashpot, which is inside the machine. Numbers added are registered on wheels at the front which are not visible. The metal operating crank is on the right. The printing mechanism at the back of the machine has nine star-shaped type wheels that are linked to the register at the front. Numbers print from a black cloth ribbon inside the case onto a paper tape at the back. The output is not visible to the operator. Once the handle and cover are removed, reassembly requires that the handle be disassembled.
- The machine is marked on a metal tag screwed to the front: REGISTERING ACCOUNTANT (/) AMERICAN ARITHMOMETER (/) ST. LOUIS, U.S.A. It is also marked there: No. 54. It is also marked there: PATENTED (/) AUG.21.1888 (/) Jan.15.1889. The machine was lent to the Smithsonian by the Burroughs Adding Machine Company in 1916, and more recently donated by Unisys Corporation.
- P. A. Kidwell, "The Adding Machine Fraternity at St. Louis: Creating a Center of Invention, 1880-1920," Annals of the History of Computing, 2000, 22: pp. 4-21.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- American Arithmometer Company
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- maker number
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- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center