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 small black machine sits on an iron base with four short legs. Seven toothed semicircular discs, mounted on a single shaft, are used to enter numbers. Between the toothed discs are full discs with the digits from 0 to 9 marked around the edge of each disc 3 times. The face of the machine is a steeply sloped curve with a rounded top. The toothed discs protrude from slots in the face, and one digit on each disc is visible through a window. The handle is on the right side. Several parts of the machine are missing.
- The machine is marked on the front: THE (/) BEACH (/) CALCULATING (/) MACHINE. It is stamped on the bottom: 2151. A mark scratched on the bottom reads: Geo. J.
- The Beach calculating machine was manufactured, at least initially, by the Book-Keeper Publishing Company of Detroit, Michigan. The firm had previously manufactured a two-wheeled stylus-operated adding machine on the design of Lester C. Smith (a modification of the Webb adder), but discontinued this product after a patent dispute.
- Seal et al v. Bookkeeper Pub. Co., May 3, 1904, Case No. 1258, "Circuit Court of Appeals Reports", 64, Rochester: Lawyers’ Cooperative Publishing, 1905, pp. 651-657.
- Elmer Henry Beach, Tools of Business, an Encyclopedia of Office Equipment and Labor Saving Devices, Detroit: Book-Keeper Publishing Co., Ltd., 1905, pp. 10-11.
- The Thomas’ Register for 1907-1908 through 1912 list under Machinery - Adding, Calculating, etc. the Beach-Kauffman Mfg. Co. of Detroit, Michigan as the manufacturer of an adding machine.
- Advertisement in Business, a Magazine for Office Store and Factory, vol 19 #1, (August 1906), p. 4, 63. The magazine was edited by Elmer Henry Beach. The advertisement indicates that the Beach-Kauffman Manufacturing Company was selling the machine.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1910
- Beach-Kauffman Manufacturing Company
- ID Number
- accession number
- maker number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center