In the second half of the 19th century, several American inventors proposed adding machines operated by moving levers, rotating discs or turning screws with the fingers. At the time, they were required to submit models of their inventions to the U.S. Patent Office. Some of these models survive in the collections shown here. At least one of them, the Lang Sales Register, apparently was manufactured.
Several of these inventors took out other patents for other inventions. The most notable was Frank S. Baldwin, who invented a pinwheel calculating machine and whose ideas were the foundation of the products of the Monroe Calculating Machine Company.
Perhaps the most successful finger-operated machines were those made by the Adding Machine Division of the American Can Company of Chicago, beginning in 1914. Even this product was not entirely successful – in 1922, the printing version of the machine was discontinued and manufacture switched to the American Adding Machine Company, also of Chicago.
"Adding Machines - Finger-Operated" showing 1 items.
- This U.S. patent model for a non-printing lever-set adding machine has a metal casing painted black and a wooden bottom. The curved front of the machine has slots for six movable rings. The part of the case to the right of each ring is marked with the digits from 0 at the bottom of the curve to 9 at the top. A crosswise shaft in the machine carries a series of six toothed metal rings that fit between the openings in the case and serve as finger wheels, ratchets, and registers. The rings are sufficiently thick so that digits can be inscribed around their edges, next to the teeth. One digit of each wheel is visible at the top of the machine, showing the result when numbers are entered by turning rings forward. The left side of each ring has a pin every ten places, which drives the adjacent wheel when carrying is required.
- The inventor of this device, John Ballou, lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. He apparently did not take out any other patents.
- Compare to patent model for Burns Addometer, catalog number MA*308911.
- U.S. Patent 27,418, March 13, 1860.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Ballou, John
- Ballou, John
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center