Moore Business Forms Continuous Forms Planning Rule

Moore Business Forms Continuous Forms Planning Rule

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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,"
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule
date made
mid 20th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
overall:.1 cm x 45.8 cm x 3.2 cm; 1/32 in x 18 1/32 in x 1 1/4 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Benjamin S. Mulitz
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Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Computers & Business Machines
Science & Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I found one of these rulers at our church this past year and was intrigued by the design and curious what it was made for and how I could possibly use it. Thank you for this article that explains it's history. No telling how it came to be at the church but I will keep it here as a little piece of history.
I have this exact ruler that I have used for decades. It was given to me by our Moore salesman I think back in the early 1970's when he helped me design a continuous invoice multi-part document for my employer. I also have similar steel rulers from Data Documents Inc. and Arnold Graphics Industries from that era. The above description is incorrect in that these rulers date back to the use of the train (chain) printers, many of which had a fixed type chain of only 10 characters per inch, used a single font, and used a wide fabric roll ribbon. The train had multiple sequences of alphabet, numbers, and punctuation marks on it, and hammers fired to make the impressions as the letters spun past. These printers used roll-type ribbons which would print 132 characters wide on our 11x14 7/8 inch paper.
In the mid to late 1970's I worked in a small data processing department for a local bakery. We had a line printer that used the typical "green bar" continuous fan-fold forms, perforated along both sides to feed through the printer. I don't remember the printer make or model. It may have been IBM and may have been a drum printer. We did buy & use Moore forms and I have one of these old metal 16" rulers given to me by one of the paper reps who sold us the forms. I think I had a rather unique use for the metal ruler. The printer had two horizontal metal bars that the forms ran over and sometimes the printer would just stop for no apparent reason. I discovered I could use the metal ruler to make contact between the two metal bars of the printer & that contact would jump start the printer, getting it going again! Never did find out why the printer stopped or why using the ruler would get it going again, but have kept the ruler as a fond remembrance of those early days.
I joined Moore as a sales trainee in Valdosta, GA in 1966 and retired in 1996 at 30 years. My journey with Moore included sales and management positions in various parts of GA, Alabama and Pennsylvania. Throughout my career with Moore the "ruler" was not only a work tool but a great promotional item which we gave to clients with their name engraved on it. I have two rulers in my desk today. A very special item.
I worked for Moore Business Forms from 1982-1987 in Cd.Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico. Was an excellent company.
My father use to work in MOORE BUSINESS FORMS MEXICO. He worked from November 1973 to March 1995. We have a pair of that rulers and other stuff like pens, calculators, and a cup of coffe. I remember when he took us to his work, it was very interesting to see how the presses worked. It was a great stage in the life of my father and his children, too.
I worked for General Motors in the late 60"s and 70"s. It seems that everybody in computer programming, data processing and data entry had a Moore Business Forms ruler. I did not work in any of these departments but interacted with them. I greatly admired the ruler and finally found someone in one of the departments to give me one. I still have it today and cherish it as much today as I did back then. My ruler is only 16 inches long with rounded corners. There are large holes which are 13/32 inches in diameter, set 2 3/4 inches and 4 1/4 inches center to center. It has another set of holes like these but are 1/4 inch in diameter. Memories are great.
My father, Cliff Allen worked for Moore Business Forms from the early 1930's in Elmira, NY until he retired in Denton, Tx in 1969. I grew up hearing so many stories of the early days. I can remember see the ruler in his desk when I was a child.
Proudly worked for Moore from 1966 to 2000. Started in San Francisco Bay Area, progressed through development of national then international organization innovations. Living in Chicago and Toronto areas and working in many countries, our friends are all over the world. And my "tab ruler" is still in use at home. Seems like my whole life is now in museums!
I worked for Moore in Toronto (and then Mississauga) from 1980 to 1999. I was in forms design (Creative Graphics Dept.) and learned the job from Supervisor Bill Harris and Manager Les Taylor. I eventually became Supervisor myself. I still have my beloved "tab ruler" that I used every day on the job at Moore....and I still use it! Had no idea it was a museum piece, but can understand why. Still love that ruler!
I spent 39 years with Moore Canada, a few with Les and Bill in Mount Dennis. Bill taught us to design forms so that they 'could not be understood'. He designed the BNS One Step combining 35 apps into one writing. Scotiabank introduced it with a song into every branch in Canada. Les accompanied us to so many of our annual Achievement Clubs for sales. I still have several 16" steel rulers and 3 Plastic 15" rules highlighting Moore Canada. (Ruler made in Italy). I have a few 6" plastic rulers and a few forms design templates as well. I have a handful of Financial Reports and some A/Club books from between 1966 and 2005, my years at Moore. Fun to remember the wonderful years at Moore. Kindest regards.
In response to Karen Bygnes' comment on the Moore ruler, I am one of Bill Harris' (former Sr. Creative Graphics Artist, Toronto) daughters and am in possession of his vintage ruler. (Sadly, he passed away at 91 last October 2019.) He was employed at Moore his entire working career of 40+ years. We found a later model blue one as well as a black version in his things. My memories of this particular ruler include him using it at home on his drafting table as well as it being a means of corporal punishment (when that was still socially acceptable).
From 1971 to 1980, I worked for a business forms company in Houston. We used rulers like this for forms design. I still have, and use, 2-3. Good forms design seems to be a lost art, however.
Found one of these at an Estate Sale. Thought it had a good "cool" factor, until I found this info on it. Now it is a treasure.
My dad worked for Moore for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can't remember him ever NOT working for Moore. He wound up being the District Manager for the entire Southeastern region, based in Memphis. There were always rulers like this around the house. In fact, I've still got 2-3. It's funny... so often... seeing my dad designing business forms at home... and then, I wound up studying graphic arts in college... and I carried one of those rulers in my art-toolbox. Who woulda thunk it?!
I was hired by Moore Business Forms in March of 1978, as a service tech. Still a grandfathered employee with a slight pension, company now being Peak-Ryzex. Oh, the good old days at Moore!!!! I still have a couple of these rulers, and actually carry one with me in my tool bag for reference. I guess I'd better replace it with a uncollectable!!!
"I worked at Moore Business Forms from 1984-1986 in their telemarking office in Lockport, NY. We were considered first line sales. I stumbled on this article and completely forgot about this ruler until now. We used it to draw business forms to the customers specifications. Then submitted the drawings and orders to one of many plants around the country for manufacturing.. We would draw our mock up drawings and snail mail them to our customers for approval. They would mail them back so they could be submitted to the plant. Most of us were recent college grads looking for our first "real " job. It was during the recession and pay was only $11/hour but we employed. That in itself was a major win. "
"Thank you so much for this information! I found a ruler like the image shown above in my mothers's belongings after her passing. This item and info is very dear to me. On the side of knowledge, I find it interesting how precise the process with the ruler must have been in the "old days", based on the info above and the very small numbers and lines on the ruler. And most workers who used them (in the old days) on a daily basis were not engineers, or other precision types. My mother was a perfectionist in her expectations of herself, so I imagine she was very good at using the ruler. Thank you again!"
My father worked for Moore Business Forms his entire career which ended up being nearly 45 years at his retirement. He used these rulers exclusively to draw forms both at the office and many a night at our family kitchen table. It was always fascinating to watch him create so many forms for so many great companys. I have one of the rulers to this day as he gave to me when he retired. Never knew I would have piece of American History in my desk drawer.

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