The Calcumeter


This five-wheeled stylus-operated adding machine has wheels of German silver (for ones and tens) and brass (for higher decimal places), with a blackened brass frame and sliding brass decimal marker. Each wheel has ten indentations. These are labeled in red on the wheel from 0 to 9. One of these ten digits is visible at any time. The digits from 1 to 9 are also stamped on the top of the frame around the opening for each wheel. Using the digits on the frame to indicate the placement of the stylus and rotating, the sum appears in the red digits on the wheels. No stylus survives. Apparently the machine doesn’t subtract. Small levers attached to the back of the machine can be adjusted to prop it up.

The machine is marked on the front: THE CALCUMETER. It is marked on the back: 911 (/) PAT’D DEC.17’01. It is also marked there: D.Draper (/) April 2nd 1904. It is marked on the end: MORSE&WALSH CO. (/) TRENTON, N.J.

The Calcumeter was invented by James J. Walsh of Elizabeth, N.J., who received a patent for it December 17, 1901 (U.S. Patent 689,225). The Calcumeter was first manufactured by Morse & Walsh Company in 1903 and 1904, but by 1906 was produced by Herbert North Morse of Trenton. Daniel Draper, who owned this machine, was a meteorologist in New York City.

Compare MA.323622.


P. A. Kidwell, “Scientists and Calculating Machines,” Annals of the History of Computing, 12 (1990): pp. 31-40.

Date Made: 1904

Maker: Morse & Walsh Company

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New Jersey, Trenton

Subject: Mathematics


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Adding Machines, Science & Mathematics


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of John William Christopher Draper and James Christopher Draper

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MA.335352Accession Number: 304826Catalog Number: 335352

Object Name: adding machine

Physical Description: german silver (overall material)brass (overall material)Measurements: overall: 1.8 cm x 16.3 cm x 5 cm; 23/32 in x 6 13/32 in x 1 31/32 in


Record Id: nmah_690292

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