Millionaire Calculating Machine

In 1893 the Swiss engineer Otto Steiger invented a calculating machine capable of direct multiplication. That is to say, one could enter a number, enter a digit, turn the crank, and the product would appear. The carriage shifted automatically, and one could then enter the next digit of the multiplier. Such machines had been proposed earlier by R. Verea, George S. Grant, and Leon Bollee, but were not successfully produced in large numbers until the Swiss manufacturer Hans Egli began making a machine based pm Steoger's patents called the Millionaire.
In about 1904 William A. Morschhauser (1872–1940) of New York City became the U. S. agent for Egli. Morschhauser provided this model of a Millionaire calculating machine to L. Leland Locke for exhibition at the Museums of the Peaceful Arts in New York City.
The lever-set manually operated non-printing machine has a brass mechanism for display but no metal case or lid. It is enclosed in glass, with only a partial mechanism to show the inner workings of the machine. The carriage is entirely contained within the case. One German silver lever is pulled forward to enter a digit. To the left of it are a series of toothed racks. Left of these is a crank which may be set anywhere between 0 and 9 for direct multiplication. Below the crank, the multiplication mechanism is visible. To the right of the digit lever is a lever that may be set at addition, multiplication, division, of subtraction. Right of it is the operating crank.
In front of the levers is a row of eight windows, one of which indicates the digit set up by the lever. In front of this is the carriage, with two other rows of windows. The row closest to the levers (further from the front) indicates the multiplier or quotient, the other row the result. The second register also has thumbscrews, that may be used to set a dividend. Both these registers have zeroing knobs. Holes for decimal markers between digits in the two registers on the carriage provide space for two German silver decimal markers. Between the front two registers, at the right, is a button used to shift the carriage. A bell is visible on the left.
A mark on the inside front of the machine at the base on the right reads: 809. A mark on the plate above the carriage reads: PTD MAY 7TH 1895. SEPT. 17TH 1895 [/] THIS PLATE NEVER TO BE TAKEN OFF!. A mark beneath the lever to the right of the digit lever reads: A M D S.
Precise dating of Millionaire calculating machines is uncertain. Daniel Lewin has estimated that machines with serial number 500 date from 1900, those with serial number 1600 from 1905, and those with serial number 2800 from 1910. If this is accurate, machines with serial number in the 800s would date from 1901 to 1904. The Spectator Company, a New York publisher of books on insurance and a distributor of calculating machines advertised the Millionaire in 1903. Morschhauser is described as the distributor from at least 1905 onward, hence a rough date of 1904 for this machine.
Daniel Lewin, "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Rechenmaschinen der Firma H.W. Egli bis 1931" Typenkorb, Nr. 48 und 49, 1992.
The Insurance Year Book 1903–1904, New York: The Spectator Company, 1903, p. 28.
E. H. Beach, ed., Tools of Business: An Encyclopaedia of Office Equipment and Labor Saving Devices, Detroit: The Book-Keeper Publishing Co, 1905, pp. 14–15.
Henry J. Kennedy, “An Ingenious Calculating Machine,” American Machinist, November 1, 1906, pp. 555–562.
“W. A. Morschhauser Ex-Official of the Calculating Business Machines Corp.” New York Times, December 5, 1940, p. 25.
E. Martin, The Calculating Machines (Die Rechenmaschinen), trans. P.A. Kidwell and M. R. Williams, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992, pp. 119–125.
H. Sossna, “Die neue Multiplicationsmaschine von Otto Steiger & Hans J. Egli in Zurich,” Zeitschrift fuer Vermessungswesen, 28 # 24, 15 December 1879, pp. 665–696, esp. pp. 674–696.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1904
Egli, Hans W.
place made
Schweiz: Zürich, Zurich
Physical Description
german silver (overall material)
brass (overall material)
glass (overall material)
ferrous metal (overall material)
overall: 21.3 cm x 69.8 cm x 33.9 cm; 8 3/8 in x 27 15/32 in x 13 11/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
maker number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of L. Leland Locke
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Calculating Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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