Mathematical Charts and Tables
Special Purpose Tables

Special Purpose Tables

From at least the 1930s through the 1960s, American manufacturers distributed a variety of tables that customers might use. This was sometimes in the form of a pamphlet, such as the set of miscellaneous hydraulic tables for designers prepared by the Southwark Foundry and Machine Company Division of Baldwin-Southwark Corporation in 1931. Other special purpose tables, distributed on slide charts of various sorts, described properties of such materials as leaded bronze, nickel alloys, specialty steels, wire cloth, glass, and salt/water mixtures. Others gave properties of compressors, elements of screw threads, and data on the dietary advantages of various forms of meat, The Aetna insurance company prepared a table instructing drivers on the safe distances to be maintained between cars. As late as 1969, a manufacturer of paper goods distributed a slide chart for calculating the cost per ounce of groceries, and urged consumers to make careful comparisons of prices. Some tables were not associated with any specific product.  Thus the “Menu Minder,” distributed in the mid-1970s, allowed one to quickly alter recipes to serve more or fewer people.  It may have been distributed as a kitchen novelty by any number of firms.

Tables distributed by business machine manufacturers have been mentioned already.  In addition to covering the needs of commerce and special forms of manufacturing, some of these offered ways to estimate square roots and cube roots.

Specialized tables also were prepared for government use. Military contractors prepared tables to assist in aiming guns and filling out Air Force inventory forms. The Atomic Energy Commission prepared a table for use in uranium enrichment plants.