Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

Original Odhner Calculating Machine

Original Odhner Calculating Machine

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
This Swedish lever-set non-printing pinwheel calculating machine has a metal frame painted black, with eight metal pinwheels and a metal base. Numbers are set by rotating the pinwheels forward, using levers that extend from the wheels. Digits inscribed on the frame next to the rotating pinwheels show the number set, as well as a set of windows above the pinwheels that shows these digits.
The carriage at the front of the machine has eight windows for the revolution counter on the left and thirteen windows for the result register on the right. The revolution counter has tens carry. Cranks at opposite ends of the carriage zero the registers on the carriage. Pushing down a lever at the front releases the carriage. Metal buttons may be pushed down to move the carriage one unit left or right.
A crank with a wooden knob on the right side of the machine rotates clockwise for addition and multiplication and counterclockwise for subtraction and division. Thin metal rods above the registers carry decimal markers. A black plastic lever is next to the result register. A bell rings when the result changes sign (negative to positive or positive to negative).
A mark on the top of the machine reads: AKTIEBOLAGET (/) Original-Odhner (/) GOTEBORG SVERIGE. A mark on the back reads: No 39-279039. A second mark there reads: MADE IN SWEDEN.
According to the Odhner History, the model 39 was in production in 1944. An instruction pamphlet received with the machine (1978.2290.02) is dated 1949. The donor dated the machine to about 1950.
According to the accession file, the donor of this object, George K. Lucey, flew U.S. Army planes during World War II, and was a navigator for TWA for 22 years.
Henry Wassen, Odhner History, Gothenburg, Aktiebolaget Original-Odhner, 1951.
Accession file.
Currently not on view
Object Name
calculating machine
date made
ca 1950
Aktiebolaget Original Odhner
place made
Sweden: Västra Götaland, Gothenburg
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 12.8 cm x 32 cm x 14 cm; 5 1/32 in x 12 19/32 in x 5 1/2 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
maker number
Credit Line
Gift of George K. Lucey
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Calculating Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

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.


Add a comment about this object