Friden Model C 10 Calculating Machine

The Swedish-born inventor Carl Friden was stranded in Australia during World War I and then, on his way back to Sweden, decided to settle in California. He found a place at the Marchant Calculating Machine Company, taking out several patents for machines manufactured there. By 1933 he had decided to start his own company. The Friden models A (8-digit entries) and B (10-digit entries) appeared in 1934.
In 1936 the young company introduced this machine, the model C. It featured automatic return clearance for the carriage and dials and was sold in two sizes, one that allowed entry of numbers up to eight digits long (the C 8) and one allowing ten-digit entries (the C 10). This is an early example of the C 10. It has a case painted greenish black. A later version of the model C, introduced in about 1941, had a gray case. It sold until 1949.
The stepped drum, full-keyboard electric non-printing calculating machine has ten columns of black and white plastic number keys, colored to make it easy to distinguish different units of money. A blank clearance key of red plastic is at the bottom of each column. Metal rods between the columns of keys turn to indicate decimal places. On the right are red and black function keys. The machine has no separate keys for multiplication.
Behind the number keys is a movable carriage with an 11-digit revolution register and a 21-digit result register. An arrow above the first column of keys assists in setting the carriage. The result register has plastic buttons above it that can be used to set up numbers. Decimal markers slide above the two registers. Zeroing knobs are on the right of the carriage. The cord is missing. The corners of the machine have metal streamlines. It resembles in key color and general appearance the contemporary Marchant keyboard electric machines built on Friden’s patent.
The machine is marked on the sides: FRIDEN. A second mark, visible through a window at the front of the machine, is: C10-41272. A paper tag glued to the front left of the machine reads: FRIDEN CALCULATIN [...] ACHINE CO. (/) OAKLAND, CALIF. The Friden Calculating Machine Company moved from Oakland to San Leandro in 1936.
Compare the Marchant ERB calculating machine with museum number 1977.1225.01, as well as a later model C 10 with catalog number MA*335422.
This machine was transferred to the collections from the Office of Exhibits at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 1982. It had no Smithsonian Institution tag.
Carl Holm, “Milestones in the Development of Friden.”
Ernie Jorgenson, Friden Age List, Office Machine Americana, p. 1
Currently not on view
Object Name
calculating machine
date made
Friden Calculating Machine Company
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 20.5 cm x 45.5 cm x 34 cm; 8 1/16 in x 17 29/32 in x 13 3/8 in
place made
United States: California, Oakland
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
maker number
C10 41272
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
Transfer from Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Exhibits
Additional Media

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