Verea Calculating Machine Model

In 1878 Ramon Verea, a Spanish-born newspaper publisher in New York City, sent the U.S. Patent Office this model of a calculating machine he had invented. It was one of the first calculating machines that could multiply a number by a digit directly, rather than be repeated addition. The machine did not become a commercial product.
The lever-set machine has flat brass sides and is open at the front, bottom and back to reveal the mechanism. At the front are two ten-sided brass prisms that are mounted vertically. Each of the sides of the each prism has two columns of holes, with ten holes in a column. The holes come in ten sizes, with the largest and deepest representing 0, and the smallest and shallowest, 9. The holes represent multiples of a given digit.
Above the prisms are two knobs that move in slots in the flat top of the machine. Pulling forward a knob rotates the cylinder below, so that the side facing the back of the machine has holes representing multiples of the digit desired. Behind this mechanism is a row of tapered pins. Pulling a lever at the back of the machine raises or lowers these pins in order to set the multiplier. Turning a crank on the right side moves the pins up to the faces of the prisms and, where there are holes in the prism, allows the pins to enter to a certain depth.
Once the surface of a prism touched a pin, it pushed the pin, and a rack behind the pin, backward. Pins entering shallow holes reach the prism quickly and have a correspondingly greater effect on the rack. Pinions linked to the racks rotate correspondingly, rotating the result wheels at the back of the machine, with carrying occurring as required. Further turning of the crank restores the prisms, racks, and pins to their original position.
A mark on the top front of the machine reads: R. VEREA (/) NEW YORK.
The model was displayed at the Museums of the Peaceful Arts in New York City. When that museum closed, it was given to the Smithsonian Institution by L. Leland Locke.
R. Verea, “Improvement in Calculating Machines,” U.S. Patent 207918, September 10, 1878.
L. Leland Locke, “The First Direct-Multiplication Machine,” Typewriter Topics, November, 1926, pp. 16 and 18.
P. Kidwell, “Ideology and Invention: The Calculating Machine of Ramon Verea,” Rittenhouse, vol. 9, 1995, pp. 33–41.
Currently not on view
date made
date patented
Verea, Ramon
Verea, Ramon
place made
United States: New York, New York
place patented
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
ferrous metal (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 13.3 cm x 17.5 cm x 20.2 cm; 5 1/4 in x 6 7/8 in x 7 15/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of L. Leland Locke
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Mathematical Association of America Objects
Calculating Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


Add a comment about this object