Davies Adding Machine

This U.S. Patent Office model has five continuous metal bands that move in slots across a wooden frame. Flat pieces of brass cover the top of the frame on the right and the left, keeping the bands in their slots. The bands are made up of small flat squares of metal, with nine squares silver-colored and the tenth one brass. Each square has a hole at the center for a stylus. Strips of paper attached between the bands have the numbers from 1 to 9. Moving a band to the right turns a wheel clockwise. The edge of this wheel, which is covered around the edge with a paper marked with the digits from 0 to 9, is visible through a window in the right piece of brass. The number shown increases as the wheel turns. A lever on the left side disengages the fourth and fifth columns. According to the patent description, there is a carry mechanism activated when a wheel passes 9.
The machine is marked on the left top: Computing (/) Machine (/) A.W. Davies.
Cleveland city directories list an Alexander W. Davies who worked off and on as a clerk, car agent, and accountant for several railroads between 1863 and 1900. It is probable that he took out two patents in 1891 for inventions relating to recording the mileage traveled by railroad cars. Railroad companies would soon become major users of business machines, including IBM tabulating equipment.
References: A. W. Davies, “Improvement in Computing Machines,” U.S. Patent 65,883, June 18, 1867.
Charles C. Gale, Royal Cowles, and Alexander W. Davies, “Car Mileage Report,” U.S. Patent 455197, June 30, 1891.
Charles C. Gale, Royal Cowles, and Alexander W. Davies, “Car Mileage Register,” U.S. Patent 456650, July 28, 1891.
Currently not on view
date made
Davies, A. W.
Davies, A. W.
place made
United States: Ohio, Cleveland
place patented
United States: Ohio, Cleveland
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paper (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 4 cm x 21 cm x 8.7 cm; 1 9/16 in x 8 9/32 in x 3 7/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Adding Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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