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 1,008,763
    Filed: Sep. 8, 1903
    Issued: Nov. 14, 1911
    Inventor: John C. Wilson

    In 1911, John Wilson received a patent for a device the offer improvements to time printing machines. In his patent, he described the invention as follows:

    "The apparatus consists of a novel arrangement of parts and connecting and cooperating devices to enable such machines to not only print or record the actual times of day 15 and the date when the machine is operated, but also to automatically compute or calculate and record or indicate the exact amount or value of the time which may elapse or intervene between two or more successive 20 imprintings to the exact second if need be…"

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 1,008,763 - Digitized by Google
  • U.S. Patent Number 1,008,763
    Filed: Sep. 8, 1903
    Issued: Nov. 14, 1911
    Inventor: John C. Wilson

    Wilson designed his invention with a specific business in mind--the telephone company. He believe his devices could be "adapted for use in connection with telephone toll lines switchboards to record the exact time when a toll line conversation begins and when it ends and at the same time to automatically compute or calculate and record the exact elapsed or intervening time, or to indicate that the elapsed or intervening time has not exceeded a certain fixed or predetermined period or time limit."

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 1,008,763 - Digitized by Google
  • U.S. Patent Number: 1,069,384
    Filed: Jun. 18, 1909
    Issued: Aug. 5, 1913
    Inventor: James W. Bryce

    In 1913, James Bryce received a patent for an "elapsed-time recorder," which hed described as providing "new and improved means for calculating and recording elapsed time."

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 1,069,384 - 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@...