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 relatively early example of a Burroughs full-keyboard printing manually operated adding machine was collected by the rival firm of Felt & Tarrant Manufacturing Company.
- The machine has a ferrous metal frame painted black, with glass sides that reveal the metal mechanism. This mechanism includes a dashpot, a device for cushioning a movement to avoid shock.. There are nine columns of color-coded black and white plastic keys, with two black keys for cents, three white keys for dollars to 999 dollars, three black keys for thousands through 999,000 dollars, and a ninth, leftmost column for millions of dollars. The metal total key is left of the keyboard, and metal error and repeat keys are right of the number keys. The keyboard is covered with green felt. The machine is operated by bringing forward a metal crank with a wooden handle that is on the right side.
- The printing mechanism is at the back of the machine. The carriage is 10 1/4" (26 cm.) wide, and the results printed are not visible to the operator. This carriage can be set in six different positions. It has a pinch roller release to adjust a single sheet of paper, as well as adjustable paper guides. An adjustable release is on the left side at the back. A smaller carriage for rolls of paper 3 1/2” wide. A saw-toothed edge allows one to tear off part of the roll of paper. A row of nine number dials at the front of the machine, inside the case, shows the running total. This machine lacks a paper tape, apparently has no ribbon, and is missing a portion of the glass on the right side.
- The Class 1, Style 3 differs from the other Burroughs Registering Accountant received from the collections of Felt & Tarrant Manufacturing Company in having a wide movable carriage, separate error and repeat keys, and a register showing running totals at the bottom front of the machine. Compare MA*323592.
- J. H. McCarthy, The American Digest of Business Machines, Chicago: American Exchange Service, 1924, p. 523.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- American Arithmometer Company
- ID Number
- accession number
- maker number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center