Moore Business Forms Continuous Forms Planning Rule


This steel rule was used in the design of early computer printouts produced by dot matrix printers. The rule has a scale of 18" along one side, divided to 1/32" for the first two inches and then to 1/16". Each inch division, up to 17, is labeled with a number of punch cards, starting with 140 cards at 1" and going up to 2,380 cards. A hole 3/16" in diameter is placed at each 1/4" and 3/4" mark up to 11-1/4" (23 holes total). These were used for setting pinfeed holes down the side of the forms for continuous feeding.

The center of the instrument has four holes 7/16" in diameter and four holes 5/8" in diameter. These are for designing holes to be punched in forms for filing. The front of the rule also has a scale of inches divided to 1/10", with subdivisions numbered from 1 to 130. This scale is a printer spacing chart, allowing the user to determine the space required for fields to be printed on the form, since each character required 1/10" of space. The rule is marked: MOORE BUSINESS FORMS, INC. Branches across the (/) United States & Canada. It is also marked at the right end: MADE IN U.S.A.

The back of the rule has a scale of inches divided to 1/12" along one edge. Along the other edge is a scale in units of 5/32" that is numbered from 1 to 100. A scale labeled "RG" has divisions the same size and is numbered from 1 to 45. This side is also marked: MOORE BUSINESS FORMS, INC. Branches across the (/) United States & Canada.

According to the donor, the 18"-size rule was considered more desirable than a 16" such as the example in the collections made by Graphic Technology (see 2006.0174.04). Fanfold paper such as that manufactured by Moore Business Forms was used from the mid-1950s into the 2000s, in association with both punched card equipment and computers.

Reference: "RR Donnelley Business Forms History,"

Date Made: mid 20th century

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States

Subject: Mathematics


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Computers & Business Machines, Science & Mathematics, Scale Rules


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Benjamin S. Mulitz

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2006.0174.03Catalog Number: 2006.0174.03Accession Number: 2006.0174

Object Name: scale rulerule

Physical Description: steel (overall material)Measurements: overall: .1 cm x 45.8 cm x 3.2 cm; 1/32 in x 18 1/32 in x 1 1/4 in


Record Id: nmah_1427411

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.