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Fascinating facts about the invention
of the
Adding Machine by Blaise Pascal in 1642.
ADDING MACHINE
The adding machine was invented by a nineteen-year-old 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.
Modern Calculator 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 Hewlett-Packard 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/mfcc-int.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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