The Calcumeter

This five-wheeled stylus-operated adding machine has wheels of German silver (for ones and tens) and brass (for higher decimal places), with a blackened brass frame and sliding brass decimal marker. Each wheel has ten indentations. These are labeled in red on the wheel from 0 to 9. One of these ten digits is visible at any time. The digits from 1 to 9 are also stamped on the top of the frame around the opening for each wheel. Using the digits on the frame to indicate the placement of the stylus and rotating, the sum appears in the red digits on the wheels. No stylus survives. Apparently the machine doesn’t subtract. Small levers attached to the back of the machine can be adjusted to prop it up.
The machine is marked on the front: THE CALCUMETER. It is marked on the back: 911 (/) PAT’D DEC.17’01. It is also marked there: D.Draper (/) April 2nd 1904. It is marked on the end: MORSE&WALSH CO. (/) TRENTON, N.J.
The Calcumeter was invented by James J. Walsh of Elizabeth, N.J., who received a patent for it December 17, 1901 (U.S. Patent 689,225). The Calcumeter was first manufactured by Morse & Walsh Company in 1903 and 1904, but by 1906 was produced by Herbert North Morse of Trenton. Daniel Draper, who owned this machine, was a meteorologist in New York City.
Compare MA*323622.
P. A. Kidwell, “Scientists and Calculating Machines,” Annals of the History of Computing, 12 (1990): pp. 31-40.
Currently not on view
Object Name
adding machine
date made
Morse & Walsh Company
Physical Description
german silver (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 1.8 cm x 16.3 cm x 5 cm; 23/32 in x 6 13/32 in x 1 31/32 in
place made
United States: New Jersey, Trenton
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Adding Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of John William Christopher Draper and James Christopher Draper

Visitor Comments

3/31/2016 6:21:15 AM
Andrew Yool
I sold a 7-dial Calcumeter recently at auction - estimate £80 to £120 - which realised an astonishing £1,600 !! It must have been extremely rare, being designed for the old British Imperial coinage of pounds, shillings, pence - plus farthings (a quarter of a penny) - but was made redundant following Decimalisation in 1961 when most would simply have been thrown away as no longer relevant.
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