Wild computing devices from the late 1800s and early 1900s

Wild computing devices from the late 1800s and early 1900s

Summary: At the beginning of the 20 century, inventors put computing devices on everything from scales to cheese cutters.

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TOPICS: Patents
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  • U.S. Patent Number: 846,012
    Filed: Jun. 23, 1906
    Issued: Mar 5, 1907
    Inventor: Zardia Crain
    Assignees: Daniel Bower and A.J. Woodard

    Even a century ago, enterprising individuals and companies were creating accessories to go with those new fangled computing devices and adding machines. Zardia Crain's book holder for adding machines was just such an invention.

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 846,012 - Digitized by Google
  • U.S. Patent Number: 846,012
    Filed: Jun. 23, 1906
    Issued: Mar 5, 1907
    Inventor: Zardia Crain
    Assignees: Daniel Bower and A.J. Woodard

    In his patent applications, Crain descried his invention as follows:

    "The invention has for an object to provide book-holding carriage mounted for travel in both vertical and horizontal planes relative to the computing-machine to which it is attached, together with means for automatically controlling the movement of said carriage in the operation of the computing-machine. Another object of the invention is to provide an improved construction and arrangement of book-holder provided with platens adapted to be inserted beneath the leaves of the book for retaining the book in proper position within the carriage."

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 846,012 - Digitized by Google
  • U.S. Patent Number 911,750
    Filed: Aug. 4, 1908
    Issued: Feb. 9, 1909
    Inventor: Edward Nicholas

    In 1901, Edward Nicholas received a patent for a device that offered improvements to time printing machines. In his patent, he described the invention as follows:

    "More specifically the invention consists of a delivery tube or shell having a stationary pivotal gate and an adjustable gate adapted to be normally held by springs at different locations within the tube or shell accordingly as it might be desired to dispense different quantities of commodities and at the same time indicate the amount of the commodity thus weighed at different prices per pound."

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 911,750 - Digitized by Google

Topic: Patents

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  • RE: Wild computing devices from the late 1800s and early 1900s

    Interesting - although most of them seem to be calculators of some sort, and most them appear to only really do a specific task (such as unit conversion).

    There was something called an "analytical engine" which was actually shown to be Turing complete, although it was never actually constructed.

    It never gained the funding and political support it needed, and would eventually become obsolete with the invention of computers based on electricity.

    Still, there are some novels written on the idea of "what if this had actually be completed, and we had computing before electricity?"
    CobraA1
  • RE: Wild computing devices from the late 1800s and early 1900s

    the train tonnage/resistence calculator would have been handy a few months ago.
    A local AC train carrying stone/cement was overloaded and causes a major brush fire in 3 towns.

    I wonder if Wilson's time stamp is y2k approved and if it stamps past 2012?
    sagetumbleweed@...
  • The Automaton

    Was a chess playing 'robot'.
    It was actually a hoax and housed a chess master (Pilsbury?).
    Nifty mechanics tho.
    sagetumbleweed@...