Magic-Brain Calculator

From at least the 19th century, people have been intrigued by the ability of computing devices to assist in mental processes. The name of the “Magic-Brain Calculator” suggests this enthusiasm, although the capabilities of the instrument were quite modest.
The Japanese-made notched band adder has a red plastic back, a silver-colored metal cover plate, and six fasteners around the edges that hold it together. Six bracket-shaped columns allow for borrowing and carrying. A row of seven holes above the columns shows the result. The bands fit rather loosely in the channels of the plastic back. A zeroing bar runs across the top and a stylus attahes to the side. The object is marked: MAGIC-BRAIN CALCULATOR. On the back It is marked: MADE IN JAPAN. For instructions, see 1987.0375.02.
References: Popular Science, February, 1962, vol. 180, p. 20. This ad indicates that at that time the Magic-Brain Calculator cost $.98 and was distributed from the Sunset Building, Beverly Hills, California.
P. Kidwell, “Adders Made and Used in the United States,” Rittenhouse, 8, (1994): pp. 78-96.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
date distributed
Sunset House
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 cm x 7 cm x 14 cm; 13/32 in x 2 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in
place made
place distributed
United States: California, Beverly Hills
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of William S. Snyder

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