Barbour Calculating Machine

Description
This small brass U.S. Patent Office model of a calculating machine is a modification of Edmund D. Barbour’s two earlier machines. It has a rectangular base on which is mounted crosswise a rotating cylinder. The cylinder has nine crosswise grooves that fill somewhat less than a quarter of the surface. Metal bands separate the grooves into columns, and each column has a set of nine sliding markers that fit in the grooves. Sliding these markers sets a number. There also is an array of pins around the cylinder, which is used in carrying. There are gears on both sides of the cylinder.
The registering mechanism has an open frame that holds three rods. One rod holds four type wheels, and the other two rods hold four gears each. Each type wheel has the numbers from 0 to 9.
The machine has no maker’s marks.
Compare MA*309172, MA*309173, and MA*318168.
The Edmund D. Barbour who took out this patent was probably Edmund Dana Barbour (1841–1925), a Boston native. He reportedly gained a fortune in the China trade, returning to Boston in 1871. Barbour took out two other patents for calculating machines; invested successfully in the Bell Telephone Company; carried out extensive genealogical research; and left most of his fortune in bequests to Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Radcliffe College. The model apparently did not lead to a successful product.
References:
U.S. Patent 168080, September 28, 1875.
J. A. V. Turck, Origin of Modern Calculating Machines, Chicago: Western Society of Engineers, 1921, pp. 180–187.
“Sharon’s Rich Men,” Boston Daily Globe, February 20, 1888, p. 6.
“Fund for Three Local Colleges: Edmund D Barbour’s Will Gives Each $20,000 a Year,” Boston Daily Globe, March 13, 1925.
Kwang-Ching Liu, Anglo-American Steamship Rivalry in China, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962, esp. pp. 92–98, 128.
J. Gardner Bartlett, “Edmund Dana Barbour,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register , vol. 79, October, 1925, pp. 339–344. This obituary does not mention any inventive activity of Barbour.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
calculating machine
date made
1875
patentee
Barbour, Edmund D.
maker
Barbour, Edmund D.
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 5.5 cm x 19 cm x 12.2 cm; 2 5/32 in x 7 15/32 in x 4 13/16 in
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
place patented
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
ID Number
MA*318168
accession number
155183
catalog number
318168
subject
Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Calculating Machines
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Calculating Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of L. Leland Locke
Additional Media

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