Computers & Business Machines
Imagine the loss, 100 years from now, if museums hadn't begun preserving the artifacts of the computer age. The last few decades offer proof positive of why museums must collect continuously—to document technological and social transformations already underway.
The museum's collections contain mainframes, minicomputers, microcomputers, and handheld devices. Computers range from the pioneering ENIAC to microcomputers like the Altair and the Apple I. A Cray2 supercomputer is part of the collections, along with one of the towers of IBM's Deep Blue, the computer that defeated reigning champion Garry Kasparov in a chess match in 1997. Computer components and peripherals, games, software, manuals, and other documents are part of the collections. Some of the instruments of business include adding machines, calculators, typewriters, dictating machines, fax machines, cash registers, and photocopiers
- In the late 19th century, as American shopkeepers hired strangers to work in their stores, they showed a new concern for keeping track of retail transactions. Azel Clarence Hough (1859-1946), the son of a creamery owner in South Butler, New York, took out a range of patents for the design and improvement of cash drawers between 1892 and 1899 (U.S. patents 484501, 486107, D22024, 534795 and 618034). His ideas served as the basis of the products of the Hough Cash Recorder Company of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts.
- This example of Hough’s Security Cash Recorder is a large oak box with an oak lid. At the front on the right is a lock for the cash drawer; the drawer is on the lower left front. On top is an opening that shows a roll of paper. Salesclerks were required to enter a total on this paper roll and advance it in order to open the cash drawer.
- This model is quite similar to the Hough Security Cash Register No. 70 shown in an advertisement reproduced in Crandall and Robins, p. 318. This machine sold for $15. Hough Cash Recorder Company advertised in Hardware Dealer’s magazine as late as June, 1906. However, its products were soon outpaced by the autographic registers sold by NCR.
- In the early 20th century, Hough became interested in the manufacture of wooden blinds, and took out several related patents. He first manufactured shades in South Butler, then in Worcester, Massachusetts, and then in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Hough Shade Corporation he formed survives under the name of Hufcor.
- Dorothy Wiggins, “Town of Butler Agricultural & Comprehensive Plan," South Butler Public Forum – September 15, 2008, pp. 1–2.
- American Lumberman, vol. 1, 1940, p. 58.
- Richard R. Crandall and Sam Robins, The Incorruptible Cashier, vol. 2, Vestal, N.Y.: Vestal Press, 1990, pp. 316–318.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Hough Cash Recorder Company
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- accession number
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- National Museum of American History