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History of the Office and Office Equipment: A Resource Guide

Machines That Add

Theodor Horydczak, photographer. Electric Institute of Washington, Potomac Electric Power Co. Building. Adding machine. Between 1920-1950. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The history of the machines that add is a topic with a long history dating back to the abacus. Merchants and governments have a long history of wanting to count and keep inventories, and machines that assist with that have long been utilized in the business and commerce environment. Included in this history are the slide rules and a number of individuals like John Napier (De Arte Logistica) and Charles Babbage (On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures) and his Difference Engine. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, more modern machines became mechanical and electric and include mechanical adding machines like the Burroughs Adding Machine, computers, and hand held calculators.

The history of these machines is often also found in the material related to the history of computers, so look for other titles that may offer additional information and look at the Typewriters & Computers section as well. Another area of literature to investigate for this history are those titles that look at the history of arithmetic/math which are not included in this guide.

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available. Some additional information can also be found in some books that trace the history of the computer as both share some common history.