Calculating Machines -- Direct Multiplication Calculating Machines

Direct Multiplication Calculating Machines

An image featuring several calculating machines from the collection.

The first calculating machines multiplied by repeated addition. To multiple by tens, hundreds, or larger units, one shifted the carriage.  From the 1870s, a few inventors proposed machines that could multiply directly – albeit by a single digit at a time. The Frenchman Léon Bollée exhibited such a machine at a world’s fair held in Paris in 1889. Not long thereafter the American George Grant and the Swiss inventor Otto Steiger invented direct multiplication machines. Steiger’s machine would sell successfully as the Millionaire in both Europe and the United States. In the 1930s, Swedish-born inventor Carl Friden introduced a calculating machine on which all of the digits of the multiplier could be entered at once. Automatic multiplication – and automatic division – came to be widely available on calculating machines in the 1950s.