John Wolff's Web Museum
Resources for further information
The background information and historical notes in these pages
have been collated from a wide variety of sources. This page lists
some of the broader published resources which readers may consult
for further information. More specific references are listed
on the individual pages.
Books and printed publications.
The Calculating Machines (Die Rechenmaschinen), Ernst
This book is a comprehensive and frequently-quoted (if not always
accurate) source of information on the calculator industry world-wide
up until about 1925. The book was translated from the original German
and re-published by the MIT Press in 1992 (ISBN 0-262-13278-8). The
text of the translation has been re-published on the
Rechenmaschinen Illustrated web site. A supplement was published
around 1935 but was not included in the translation.
Origin of Modern Calculating Machines, J.A.V.Turck, 1921.
This book gives a first-hand account of many of the early
developments from the 1880s to the 1920s, particularly in regard to
key-driven and printing calculators. Turck manufactured his own
key-driven machine (the "Mechanical Accountant") from 1900, before
joining Felt & Tarrant in about 1910 and leading the technical
development of the Comptometer through the 1920s and 30s. The book
was reprinted in 1972 (ISBN 0-405-04730-4) and is still available.
A Computer Perspective, C&R Eames, Harvard University Press,
1973. SBN 674-15625-0
This book was produced to document an exhibition on the history of
computing that was presented by IBM in New York in 1973. It covers
the period up to the 1950s, and is very much concerned with the
social and historical context in which calculating and computing
technology was developed.
It all adds up, Edwin Darby, Chicago, 1968
This book was commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary of the
founding of the Victor Adding Machine Company (later the Victor
Comptometer Corporation) in Chicago in 1918. It covers the history of
the company and its founders, and devotes two chapters to the merger
with the Comptometer Corporation in 1961. It gives an interesting
picture of the industrial and commercial environment in America
during the first half of the 1900s. The book is readily available
from second-hand dealers.
Neue Blicke auf alte Maschinen (New look at old machines),
Martin Reese, Hamburg, 2002. ISBN 3-8300-0533-4
This book provides brief histories of many of the German calculating
machine companies and their products, with biographical details about
the founders and designers. The book (in German only) is available
from the publisher via amazon.co.uk.
The IEEE Annals of the History of Computing contain occasional
articles on calculators as computer pre-history. Items of particular
Copies of the IEEE Annals are available in some academic libraries.
Individual articles can be located and purchased on-line through
- several articles on Charles Babbage's calculating engines, by the
late Professor Alan Bromley of the University of Sydney.
- articles on some of the early American calculator companies
clustered in St Louis and Chicago, by Peggy Kidwell of the Smithsonian
- a reprint of a lecture presented to the Association for Computing
Machinery in 1952 by George Chase, the Chief Engineer of the Monroe
Calculating Machine Company. This first-hand account surveys some of
the machines which advanced the art of mechanical calculation, and
the men who built them.
- The Rechnerlexikon
(calculator encyclopaedia) is an extensive collection of
user-contributed information on mechanical calculators, companies,
people, and patents. The site is primarily in German.
Rechenmaschinen Illustrated web site extends Ernst Martin's 1925
text (above) to the present time with user-contributed details and
illustrations of later models. The site (in English) covers only
- The Museum of HP Calculators
is the definitive source for information on Hewlett-Packard electronic
calculators. It also contains a section on pre-electronic calculators,
with an explanation of the basic principles of some of the early
- James Redin's web
site is a good starting point for general information on vintage
calculators. The site includes photos, technical articles, and
links to resources and collectors world-wide.
- Rick Bensene's
Old Calculator Web Museum (USA) has detailed descriptions and
background information on many early electronic calculators.
- Nigel Tout's
Vintage Calculators Web Museum (UK) has gives a British perspective
on mechanical and early electronic calculators, and includes a very
detailed history of the Bell Punch Company.
- Brent Hilpert's
Early Electronic Calculators (EEC) web site (Canada) presents
detailed technical information derived from reverse-engineering of
early electronic calculators. The site includes circuit diagrams,
in-depth circuit analysis, and even logic simulations of several
- The US Patent and Trademarks
Office contains a wealth of original patent documents relating
to mechanical calculators. They are all available on-line, but they
are not easy to find unless you know the patent number. Copies can
be purchased, or downloaded one page at a time as TIFF images.
- The Google patent site
contains a searchable copy of the US Patent Office database.
The search fields are derived from the old printed documents by optical
character recognition, and contain a vast number of errors. The search
results are often helpful, but are rarely complete or exhaustive.
- Your favourite search engine
will find the most up-to-date links to calculator information on
Original text and images Copyright © John Wolff 2002-2009.
Last Updated: 24 August 2009
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