Arithmometer Stepped cylinder calculator

Charles Xavier Thomas, Colmar, around 1880

 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Information & Communication
Data Processing
Nature and Knowledge
1850 - 1899



The Arithmometer by Charles Xavier Thomas can perform all the basic mathematical calculations, thus yielding time savings for the commercial sector. 

In the face of rising computational requirements at banks and insurance companies, arithmetic, along with reading and writing, becomes an integral part of the education received by the middle-class. In order to save time, Charles Xavier Thomas, the director of two Parisian insurance companies, constructs a mechanical calculator. In 1820, he patents this machine, which is based on a stepped cylinder operating mechanism. It can perform all four basic types of calculation. The values used in the calculation are set via a slide control. After initially only building the machines for his own company, he soon starts to also produce them for other interested parties. He becomes a calculating machine manufacturer. By 1878, 1,500 Arithmomètres have been sold.

Watchmaker Rudolf Dobesch and merchant Julius Masseur who, in 1972, build similar machines in Vienna based on the design of the Arithmomètre, are not quite as successful. After Thomas's patent expires, the Erste Deutsche Rechenmaschinenfabrik is founded in Glashütte, Germany, which also builds calculating machines based on the design of the Arithmomètre.

Inv.Nr. 55790

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