Matching on query: Unique id = any, Name = any, Associated machine = any, class = calculating machine

Brunsviga

DW: This is a Brunsviga hand calculating machine. These were used in the Laboratory from about 1937 until after the war in the early fifties. Originally the Lab was set up so there were some calculators like this to provide computing for the University and science students used to come in and use machines such as this do their calculations. This machine allows you to do calculations in roughly the following way: You can set a number by means of these switches, you can then add that number into the accumulator by turning the handle. You turn the handle the other way it subtracts, and in addition this accumulator at the bottom will move to the right and to the left and you can do a multiplication as a sequence of additions perhaps five for a five and shift and then six revolutions for the next digit, and perhaps 3 for the next digit and thus you can perform a multiplication by doing a lot of hand turning and some shifting. You can do division by doing the same backwards with subtraction. There are lots of levers which do various things, this clears this register which records the number of turns of the handle in each of the different places, in other words the multiplier. This clears the register here, and we can individually set things, and there is one very interesting mechanism here which allows you to transfer a number from the accumulator back on to these keys by a combination - if I remember correctly - of this lever and moving these simultaneously. So the machine could do additions, subtractions and multiplications, divisions and it can transfer numbers back to the multiplicand. Lots of people like these very much, Jeff Miller used to swear by these rather than the more advanced Facits mainly because you could do this transfer which helped some calculations. You can actually set individual numbers here but it's a very versatile machine, if a bit fingery to use, but they did a lot of calculations in the early days. I think it was produced in the early thirties but it may have been the twenties I'm not sure - it's a German machine. They made this design, which is fairly complicated mechanically.

Q: Were they very expensive?

DW: I never bought one - I think they would have been expensive by the standards of the day, which is why the University had a few for the entire University rather than in every department, which is what you would expect nowadays. Also they went on quite late in use, even after the EDSAC started because they were used for teaching classes in numerical analysis.

Archivists note: Information obtained from the web:

The first Brunsviga was produced in 1892, they continued to manufacture machines until the 1960s when the company was bought by Olympia, a well known German office machine manufacturer. Olympia was later acquired by Volkswagen. Brunsviga originally manufactured sewing machines but later moved to mechanical calculators. Mechanical calculators of this type were invented by Willgodt T.Odhner in 1878, he later sold his patent to Brunsviga.

Facit

DW: The Facit is a rather cleaner design of a hand calculator - I believe the Lab bought them in about the fifties and they were again mainly used for teaching numerical analysis. The mode of working is approximately the same with some rather lighter refinements. In order to set instead of pressing individual pins you can actually use a keyboard, then you can do your addition or subtraction, you can move the accumulator along to the right or to the left again by a key action rather than a push, and you can clear various registers and it takes less instruction to become used to using this than it does a Brunsviga. The one feature that it lacks is the transfer of a number from the accumulator back into the setting register - on the other hand with the keyboard being so fast you can transfer that number and check that you transferred it with so little effort but it's probably not much of a drawback. A nice updating of the old Brunsviga, I think. This is a Swedish machine as opposed to a German one.

Facit

DW: The Facit is a rather cleaner design of a hand calculator - I believe the Lab bought them in about the fifties and they were again mainly used for teaching numerical analysis. The mode of working is approximately the same with some rather lighter refinements. In order to set instead of pressing individual pins you can actually use a keyboard, then you can do your addition or subtraction, you can move the accumulator along to the right or to the left again by a key action rather than a push, and you can clear various registers and it takes less instruction to become used to using this than it does a Brunsviga. The one feature that it lacks is the transfer of a number from the accumulator back into the setting register - on the other hand with the keyboard being so fast you can transfer that number and check that you transferred it with so little effort but it's probably not much of a drawback. A nice updating of the old Brunsviga, I think. This is a Swedish machine as opposed to a German one.

Marchant

DW: This was a Marchant electrically driven hand calculator which I believe were introduced in the Lab during the war - they were certainly available in the Lab from 1948 onwards. We had 2 or 3 and they were part of the University Computing Service where people from other departments could come and use them. The Marchant design is delightfully simple - you can set number on the keyboard in a simple fashion, you do multiplication by pressing a sequence of multiplier keys like 3,2,5 and the carriage will automatically shift along an accumulator - a bit like a Brunsviga but instead of you having to turn the handle pressing 5 would turn the handle 5 times and move the carriage one place. There is an automatic division whereby you can divide the number here and obtain the quotient. You divide the accumulator number by the number on the keyboard and you get the quotient. There were no transfer facilities but the machine was fairly fast and fairly simple to use, so it was quite liked by the users.

Q: Was it a successful machine around the country and around the world ?

DW:I really don't know - there were comparatively few places which did a lot of computation while it was around, so I suspect the number of such machines would be limited it may be tens, hundreds I would say in the UK, but I really don't know.

Millionaire calculating machine

DW:This is an example of a very early calculating machine intended for calculations. It is the millionaire calculating machine and was originated round about 1900. It has a date on somewhere. It was fairly elaborate for the time - We have a standard accumulator into which you could set numbers. We have an operand register in which you could set numbers, we have a standard mechanical rotation for doing an addition or subtraction. This device in particular had a multiplying attachment and this lever turns to position 1 to 9 or 0 to 9, so that if we turn this handle once we will add possibly 9 times or 8 times. This was a multiplying machine - you could do division by repeated subtraction like all the other hand calculators. It's quite a heavy box of tricks, but this method of multiplying was reasonably unusual, at the time and afterwards for that matter.

Q: Were there many other competitors around when this was first made?

DW: I don't think so, this was made round about 1900 and the number of large scale calculations which had to be done was relatively small, so I don't suppose the market would have been very good. There are detailed instructions along the top on how to use it. By the time I came to the Lab it was never used because other machines like Brunsvigas or Facits were so much more convenient for the hand calculations being done.

Q: Was it a completely innovative design for its time?

DW: I think so, yes, it was rather rare to have a multiplier of this type. The usual type was to turn the handle 5 times if you wanted to add 5 times, but here you set it to 5 and turn the handle once. So that mechanism was unusual and too elaborate for the time as well. Perhaps simpler to turn the handle 5 times quickly rather than do 2 separate operations.

Archivists Note:Information obtained from the web

Invented by: Otto Steiger

Year: 1892

Producer: Hans W. Egli of Switzerland (Zurich)

Produced (from-to): 1899-1935

Produced number:4655

Double Brunsviga adding machine

DW: This is non-working double Brunsviga which was designed by Brunsviga to perform calculations with complex numbers. It was possible to have a number set on these switches and on these switches and by rotating the handle you could either add both in their respective accumulators or else add this and subtract this. There are the usual levers for clearing registers. The carriage at the bottom shifts when it's in working order but not when it's jammed as it is now . It is possible to set the numbers into the accumulators directly, but basically this is just two simple Brunsvigas coupled together so that you could add into one and subtract into the other or add and add or multiply two separate numbers by the same multiplier. These were used for doing calculations with complex numbers - I think the Lab had only one of these which was available for use for those desiring computations and complex numbers in the 30's, 40's and early 50's.

Archivists Note: Information obtained from the web:

Type: Brunsviga Doppel Nova 13Z

Year: 1929

Produced by: Grimme, Natalis & Co. A.G. Braunschweig

It was particularly useful for calculation of (x,y) coordinates.

Muldivo Electric Calculating machine

Madas = Multiplication, Automatic Division, Addition, Subtraction.

Facit ESA

none

Number of matches = 8 Copyright © University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, 1999. All rights reserved.