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: 641,517
    Filed: Sep. 23, 1899
    Issued: Jan. 16, 1900
    Inventor: Charles E. Keel

    Looking for a ways to quickly and accurately calculate taxes, Charles Keel described his invention as follows:

    "The invention consists in a manually-operated machine consisting of a pair of main rotating disks, one of which contains numbers representing valuations or base-figures and the other of which contains numbers representing results or amounts of taxes or percentage, a pair of rotating numbered disks to show the higher denominations or order of figures in connection with those on the main disks, intermediate gearing whereby the disks are caused to rotate in the proper ratios of speed to effect the desired results, and a frame whereby the several parts are supported."

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 641,517 - Digitized by Google
  • U.S. Patent Number: 641,517
    Filed: Sep. 23, 1899
    Issued: Jan. 16, 1900
    Inventor: Charles E. Keel

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 641,517 - Digitized by Google
  • U.S. Patent Number: 659,727
    Filed: Oct. 5, 1899
    Issued: Oct. 16, 1900
    Inventor: Chester W. Brown

    Long before the days of digital cameras, photographers used metal or glass plates to capture images. To help these early photographers, Chester Brown invented a device that could be "carried in the pocket or otherwise for determining the length of time for exposing photographic plates according to the rules of photography applicable to varying conditions…"

    Image taken from U.S. Patent 659,727 - 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@...