Moore Business Forms Continuous Forms Planning Ruler

Description
This steel rule was used in the design of early computer printouts produced by dot matrix printers. The rule has a scale of 18" along one side, divided to 1/32" for the first two inches and then to 1/16". Each inch division, up to 17, is labeled with a number of punch cards, starting with 140 cards at 1" and going up to 2,380 cards. A hole 3/16" in diameter is placed at each 1/4" and 3/4" mark up to 11-1/4" (23 holes total). These were used for setting pinfeed holes down the side of the forms for continuous feeding.
The center of the instrument has four holes 7/16" in diameter and four holes 5/8" in diameter. These are for designing holes to be punched in forms for filing. The front of the rule also has a scale of inches divided to 1/10", with subdivisions numbered from 1 to 130. This scale is a printer spacing chart, allowing the user to determine the space required for fields to be printed on the form, since each character required 1/10" of space. The rule is marked: MOORE BUSINESS FORMS, INC. Branches across the (/) United States & Canada. It is also marked at the right end: MADE IN U.S.A.
The back of the rule has a scale of inches divided to 1/12" along one edge. Along the other edge is a scale in units of 5/32" that is numbered from 1 to 100. A scale labeled "RG" has divisions the same size and is numbered from 1 to 45. This side is also marked: MOORE BUSINESS FORMS, INC. Branches across the (/) United States & Canada.
According to the donor, the 18"-size rule was considered more desirable than the 15" (see 2006.0174.04). Fanfold paper such as that manufactured by Moore Business Forms was used from the mid-1950s into the 2000s, in association with both punched card equipment and computers.
Reference: "RR Donnelley Business Forms History," http://www.rrdonnelley.com/print-solutions/forms/history.aspx.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule
rule
date made
mid 20th century
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
Measurements
overall: .1 cm x 45.8 cm x 3.2 cm; 1/32 in x 18 1/32 in x 1 1/4 in
place made
United States
ID Number
2006.0174.03
catalog number
2006.0174.03
accession number
2006.0174
subject
Scale Rules
Science & Mathematics
Mathematics
Computers & Business Machines
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Benjamin S. Mulitz

Visitor Comments

8/12/2015 2:03:29 PM
Kim Hogan
My father worked for Moore Business Forms his entire career which ended up being nearly 45 years at his retirement. He used these rulers exclusively to draw forms both at the office and many a night at our family kitchen table. It was always fascinating to watch him create so many forms for so many great companys. I have one of the rulers to this day as he gave to me when he retired. Never knew I would have piece of American History in my desk drawer.
9/1/2016 11:34:40 PM
RM Heafner
Thank you so much for this information! I found a ruler like the image shown above in my mothers's belongings after her passing. This item and info is very dear to me. On the side of knowledge, I find it interesting how precise the process with the ruler must have been in the "old days", based on the info above and the very small numbers and lines on the ruler. And most workers who used them (in the old days) on a daily basis were not engineers, or other precision types. My mother was a perfectionist in her expectations of herself, so I imagine she was very good at using the ruler. Thank you again!
11/22/2016 12:26:29 PM
Lilli
I worked at Moore Business Forms from 1984-1986 in their telemarking office in Lockport, NY. We were considered first line sales. I stumbled on this article and completely forgot about this ruler until now. We used it to draw business forms to the customers specifications. Then submitted the drawings and orders to one of many plants around the country for manufacturing.. We would draw our mock up drawings and snail mail them to our customers for approval. They would mail them back so they could be submitted to the plant. Most of us were recent college grads looking for our first "real" job. It was during the recession and pay was only $11/hour but we employed. That in itself was a major win.
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