Fascinating
facts about the invention
of the Adding Machine by Blaise
Pascal in 1642. 
ADDING
MACHINE 

The adding machine was invented by a
nineteenyearold French boy named Blaise Pascal way back in the year 1642. Blaise made it
to help his father in his work. The man was a clerk, and all day long he had to do a
tremendous number of mathematical calculations. The boy’s invention consisted of a
wooden box with sixteen dials on it. By turning the dials, one could do simple addition
and subtraction very quickly. 

There were two prior attempts to
create such a machine which were discovered only recently. One is of Wilhelm Schickard who
invented a mechanical calculator in 1623. Apparently only two prototypes were built and
their location is unknown (if they survived at all). Only in the 1950's when letters of
Schickard were discovered was this information revealed. From diagrams in these letters it
was possible to reconstruct his machine. An even earlier
attempt was made by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. In 1967 some of his notes were
found in the National Museum of Spain, which included a description of a machine bearing a
certain resemblance to Pascal's machine. A model of da Vinci's machine was made with the
help of these notes. 
TO
LEARN MORE
RELATED INFORMATION:
History
of Computing
from The Great Idea Finder
Blaise Pascal,
Inventor Profile from The Great Idea
Finder
Leonardo
da Vinci, Inventor Profile
from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
The
Kid Who Invented the Popsicle : And Other Surprising Stories About Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson / Paperback  128 pages (1999)
/ Puffin
Brief factual stories about how various familiar things were invented, many by accident,
from animal crackers to the zipper.
ON THE WEB:
The First Adding Machine
Adding machines date back to the 17th century. They started with simple machines
that could only add (and sometimes subtract.) Many were rather tricky to use and could
produce erroneous results with untrained users.
(URL: www.hpmuseum.org/adder.htm)
Blaise Pascal (1623  1662)
From `A Short Account of the History of Mathematics' (4th edition, 1908) by W. W. Rouse
Ball.
(URL: www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/People/Pascal/RouseBall/RB_Pascal.html)
The Calculators Museum
The Museum of HP Calculators displays and describes HewlettPackard calculators introduced
from 1968 to 1986 plus a few interesting later models. There are also sections on
calculating machines and slide rules as well as sections for buying and selling HP
calculators, an HP timeline, collecting information and a software library.
(URL: www.hpmuseum.org/)
Online Calculators
List
A collection of the best calculators on the Web brought to you by the LibrarySpot.
(URL: www.libraryspot.com/calculators.htm)
The SEC Mutual Fund Cost
Calculator:
The Mutual Fund Cost Calculator enables investors to easily estimate and compare the costs
of owning mutual funds. The Cost Calculator takes the mystery and math out of the cost
equation, revealing how costs add up over time.
(URL: www.sec.gov/mfcc/mfccint.htm)
History of Calculating Machines (This
site has closed.) Blaise Pascal dosen't get all the credit. What about Wilhelm Schickard
and Leonardo da Vinci. (URL: www.webcom.com/calc/)
FUN FACTS:
 Today there are about 50 surviving machines manufactured by
Blaise Pascal.

Reference
Sources in BOLD Type 
This
page revised March, 2005. 



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