Lightning Adding Machine

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This small seven-wheeled stylus-operated non-printing adding machine has a metal case painted green and covered with felt on the back. It sits in a brown bakelite stand. A stylus fits in the ten holes in each wheel. Placing the stylus in the proper hole and and rotating it enters a digit. The sum appears in seven windows above the holes. The two rightmost and the two leftmost wheels are brass. The three middle ones are steel. The device has no zeroing mechanism and the stylus is missing.
The instrument is marked on the front: THE (/) Lightning (/) ADDING (/) MACHINE (/) CO. (/) LOS ANGELES (/) CALIF. U.S.A.. It is marked with intertwined letters on the back of the stand: GIM.
This machine is from the calculating machine collection of Myron R. Smith.
Office Appliances, January, 1948, vol. 87, p. 225 - sold for $12.95 - also March, 1948, vol. 87, p. 208.
Currently not on view
date made
Lightning Adding Machine Company
place made
United States: California, Los Angeles
Physical Description
felt (overall material)
steel (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 4 cm x 36 cm x 11 cm; 1 9/16 in x 14 3/16 in x 4 11/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Myron R. Smith
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Adding Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History


I have the same one as shown above with the original stylus. It was my father's but he may have been given it by his parents. It is still in its original box but this box has seen a lot of taping on corners and edges over the years. Surely this must be one of the first mechanical adding machines.
I have this same one that my grandfather gave me . I also have the zeroing mechanism and the stylus. I only wish I still had the box.
I use one of those things for adding once in awhile
Mine looks a little different. I have writing in the top left hand corner. It says "Pull lever to clear ". Perhaps mine is a replica?
"One of these sits on my desk. Mechanical calculators never go down, never have a memor glitch, and always give the right answer. The stylus has a good weight and is comfortable in the hand."

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