What in the heck was that mechanical calculator?
September 14, 2010 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Help identify this mechanical calculator I saw as a teen.

As a teenager, I saw something somewhat similar to this mechanical calculator at a thrift store for $5. I thought it was awesome and wanted to buy it. But then I thought "Naaah, it's cool, but not too useful. I'd have to get ribbon and tape and stuff. I'd probably never use it.

Well, I've been thinking about that machine ever since, so now I'm kicking myself.

Anybody want to help me figure out what that it was? It wasn't much bigger than a handheld electronic calculator (but this was mechanical). It only did addition, but if you flipped a switch, it would also do subtraction. As you typed in your number, a slider thingy would slide out that would show how many digits you'd entered. It was placed in such a way as to imitate handheld electronic caclulator displays. When you hit the big + button, it would print the number, or the sum, onto the paper receipt tape (I don't know exactly what it printed out because it didn't have any tape). It was pretty boss.

What was it?
posted by Galaxor Nebulon to Technology (6 answers total)
We used to call those adding machines. That would be the search term to use. It would have been a compact model for some sort of specialized purpose - or maybe just a really old model that didn't do multiplication or division. No idea what the model would have been though.
posted by nangar at 9:06 AM on September 14, 2010

Best answer: You might find something familiar in an image search for mechanical adding machine. Since your description covers a lot of adding machines, you're probably the only one who will be able to find the exact one.
posted by MsMolly at 9:13 AM on September 14, 2010

Response by poster: Ah hah. I was avoiding the "adding machine" keyword because I thought most adding machines were the kind that had a big column for the 1000s and then another whole column for the 100s, etc. This was the first one I'd seen that used a calculator-style key entry. But I'm seeing some of those turn up in the image results.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:21 AM on September 14, 2010

My boss has an adding machine that does feet, inches, and FRACTIONS. Fun to play with.
posted by notsnot at 9:22 AM on September 14, 2010

Response by poster: And of course, now that I'm looking at these pictures, I'm all confused and don't think I'd be able to pick out the exact one I saw way back when.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:25 AM on September 14, 2010

Response by poster: Okay, I'm going to go ahead and say it was this one. That's not exactly how I remember it looking, but it's the closest, and it seems to be the most common one out there, if I'm to believe the image results.

It's pretty cool-looking.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:33 AM on September 14, 2010

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