Ruler Advertising Friden Calculating Machines

This promotional white plastic six-inch ruler is divided along the top edge to sixteenths of an inch and numbered by fourths from 1 to 6. The bottom edge has six one-inch sections, three of which are divided to 1/12" and three of which are divided to 1/10". The ruler is marked: PRODUCTS OF Friden THE NATURAL WAY ADDING MACHINE (/) THE AUTOMATIC CALCULATOR (/) THE COMPUTYPER (/) DATA PROCESSING MACHINES. It is also marked: FRIDEN, INC. (/) 1724 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. (/) Washington 7, D.C. (/) Phone ADams 2-6377.
The back of the ruler has lists of decimal equivalents for twelfths, eighths, and sixteenths. Another list gives the number of days from January 1 to the first of each month. The right edge has a 15cm ruler, divided to millimeters. The bottom edge is marked: Printed in U.S.A.
During World War I, Carl Friden (1891–1945) emigrated from Sweden to Australia and then to the United States. He patented numerous improvements to calculating machines while working for the Marchant Calculating Machine Company of Oakland, Calif. With his royalties, he established Friden Calculating Machine Company in 1933. After briefly renting factory space, the firm built a factory in San Leandro, Calif., in 1937. In addition to calculating machines, Friden made precision machine tools and aircraft instruments. After purchasing Commercial Controls Corporation in 1957, it began making automatic electric typewriters for producing mass business correspondence. The Singer Corporation purchased the company in 1965 and phased out the Friden brand name in 1974.
Friden opened a branch office in Washington, D.C., by 1935 and operated it until around 1980. Waverly Dickson (1909–1967) was the branch manager from 1935 to 1967, and he and his sister, Lulie Dickson, owned the building at 1724 Wisconsin Ave. Theodore A. Peck (1892–1978) was the sales manager from 1945 to 1968. Large American cities used postal zone numbers from 1943 to 1963, hence the dating of the object.
The Smithsonian owns at least 18 Friden calculators and nearly 20 pieces of related documentation. For promotional rulers by Monroe's chief competitors, see MA*293320.2811, MA*293320.2812, and MA*293320.2816.
References: John Wolff, "The Friden Calculating Machine Company," December 9, 2012, John Wolff's Web Museum,; "Waverly Dickson, Manager of Firm," Washington Post (March 24, 1967), B6; "Theodore Peck, Retired Sales Manager for Friden," Washington Post (November 11, 1978), B6.
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule
date made
Friden, Inc.
Friden, Inc.
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: .1 cm x 16.2 cm x 2.8 cm; 1/32 in x 6 3/8 in x 1 3/32 in
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Scale Rules
Science & Mathematics
Measuring & Mapping
Promotional Item
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana
Additional Media

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