Lasico L30-A Electronic Polar Compensating Planimeter Prototype

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This metal prototype for an electronic polar planimeter has an adjustable 12" tracer arm with lens. The top of the arm is divided to millimeters and numbered from 10 to 24 centimeters. The bottom is marked with a serial number: 45254. The arm slides into a painted metal holder for an electronic measuring unit with a plug. The holder has a vernier for the scale on the tracer arm and is marked: LASICO. The plug attaches to a Series 40 processor with a digital screen for displaying the measurement and a knob for setting the instrument to OFF, A, ACCU, or B. An AC adapter by Calrad, a Taiwanese company, powers the processor.
An adjustable 10" pole arm fits into the holder at one end and a rectangular painted metal pole weight at the other end. The weight is marked: LASICO (/) U.S.A. The arm is divided to millimeters and numbered by tens from 30 to 60 millimeters. The adjusting part of the arm is marked: LASICO. An additional tracer arm with a point instead of a lens has serial number: 45275. A business card for the designer, who also donated the instrument, an extra lens, and two plastic washers for the lens are inside a black plastic case lined with foam.
Maximilian Berktold (b. 1929) immigrated from Kempten-Allgäu, West Germany, in 1950 and almost immediately began working for the Los Angeles Scientific Instrument Company. He oversaw design and production of the firm's planimeters, integrators, pantographs, and various optical instruments until Lasico closed in 2008. He developed this prototype around 1970 from the company's model L30 mechanical planimeter, but the final version was sold as model series 40 and 50. These devices cost several hundred dollars.
An 18-page booklet, "LASICO Instruction Manual [for] Digital Compensating Polar Planimeters," was received with the instrument. It contains the calibration settings for a model L50-E, serial number 65879. For company history, see 2011.0043.01.
Reference: Accession file.
Currently not on view
date made
Los Angeles Scientific Instrument Company
place made
United States: California, Los Angeles
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
foam (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 7.3 cm x 33 cm x 30 cm; 2 7/8 in x 13 in x 11 13/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Maxmilian Berktold
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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