Ellis Adding-Typewriter

Several prominent inventors of adding machines had associations with St. Louis.Two of them were patent attorney Halcolm Ellis and mechanical engineer Nathan W. Perkins Jr. In 1902 they took out a patent for an adding machine. Although this machine apparently was never produced, Ellis then patented a combination adding machine and typewriter, and tried to manufacture it in Massachusetts. When his funds dried up, Eillis returned to St. Louis and organized the Ellis Adding-Typewriter Company. The firm soon moved to New Jersey, with Perkins managing the engineering division of the company. By 1911 a modified, electrically powered Ellis adding typewriter was tried at four banks
This is a slightly later machine. It has a metal frame and glass sides. The typewriter keyboard is at the front, with a full-keyboard, nine-column adding machine at the middle. Both the typewriter and the adding machine have plastic keys. The typewriter has no “1” key. The keyboard under the adding machine is covered with green felt. Four function keys are to the left of the adding machine keyboard.
Behind is a wide carriage with two-colored ribbon. The spools for the ribbon are uncovered. The crank for operating the adding machine is on the right side and has an ivory handle. The machine was used in the office at the Ellis Plant in Newark, N.J.
By 1929, Ellis was in financial difficulties. The assets of the company were acquired by National Cash Register Company, and the typing feature of Ellis machines was incorporated into the NCR 3000 accounting machine.
Halcolm Ellis, “The Process of Assembling a Small and Intricate Machine,” Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 33 (1911), pp. 211–231.
McCarthy, American Digest of Business Machines, pp. 477–478.
Accession file.
P. A. Kidwell, “The Adding Machine Fraternity at St. Louis: Creating a Center of Invention, 1880-1920,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 22, 2 (April-June 2000), pp. 4–21.
Currently not on view
Object Name
bookkeeping machine
date made
Ellis Adding-Typewriter Company
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
glass (overall material)
metal (overall material)
felt (overall material)
ivory (overall material)
overall: 11.9 cm x 52 cm x 51 cm; 4 11/16 in x 20 15/32 in x 20 3/32 in
place made
United States: New Jersey, Newark
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Bookkeeping Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of National Cash Register Company
Additional Media

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