Scheutz Difference Engine

Scheutz Difference Engine

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This is the first printing calculator sold. From ancient times, scientists and mathematicians have calculated numerical tables. These tables were often rife with error, both from incorrect calculations and from errors in reproduction. In the early 1800s, the English mathematician Charles Babbage proposed a machine called a difference engine that would compute and print automatically a large class of tables. Although Babbage's machine was never completed, it inspired the Swedish publisher Georg Scheutz and his son Edvard to build this instrument. It was exhibited at the world's fair held in Paris in 1855 and sold to the Dudley Observatory in Schenectedy, New York. It also was the first computing machine to carry out computations under U.S. government contract.
For a related object, see 1988.0798.01.
Merzbach, Uta C., Georg Scheutz and the First Printing Calculator, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1977.
Lindgren, Michael, Glory and Failure: The Difference Engines of Johann Mueller, Charles Babbage and Georg and Edvard Scheutz, trans. Craig G. McKay. Linkoping, Sweden: Linkoping University, 1987. Reprinted by MIT Press, 1990.
Currently not on view
Object Name
difference engine
date made
Georg and Edvard Scheutz
place made
Sweden: Stockholm, Stockholm
Physical Description
metal (mechanism material)
paper (printout material)
wood (base material)
overall: 56 cm x 170 cm x 58 cm; 22 1/16 in x 66 15/16 in x 22 13/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Victor Comptometer Corporation
Worlds Fair
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Calculating Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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