Summer exhibit: Vintage Adding Machines


Long before everyone had a smart phone in their pocket, the financial livelihood of the American workplace was managed using these (at the time) state of the art mechanical accounting machines. 

Through August 13, come to level 3 of the library to take a look (and touch) some of these marvelous machines.

This exhibit (curated by Dr. John Wholihan, Professor Emeritus, LMU College of Business Administration) is designed to…

  • Show the development and evolution of early adding business machines, from the Abacus to mechanical and electric machines.
  • Connect the mechanical era to the computer era through brief histories of several companies such as Remington Rand, Burroughs, Monroe, Victor, Underwood, Marchant, R.C. Allen, Todd, and Comptometer.

The small, hand-held devices we use today evolved out of the mechanical age. From hand-cranked adding machines to electric machines, to electronic desktop calculators, to punch cards, to advanced computers, each generation added both simplicity and complexity to our work with numbers and words.’

In this evolution some small companies became large through international growth and merger. Other
companies became less competitive and no longer exist. Still others changed markets and products and
survive today at least in name. Display items demonstrate this point.

The notable mergers among the companies represented in this display involve Burroughs and Remington Rand. In 1955 Remington Rand was acquired by the Sperry Corporation, becoming Sperry Rand Corporation, and later simply Sperry Corporation. Burroughs merged with Sperry Corporation in 1986 to form Unisys.
Today, Unisys is a leader in the area of data security.


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