Computer Revolution: Early Patent for Improving Computation and Calculation
Paper MemorabiliaEarly U.S. patent granting intellectual property ownership for a "new and useful improvement in calculators" to Frank Nelson in September 1894 and numbered 526,196. An important source of technical information on a calculator improvement that assists in the reduction of human error through "the simplification of calculations where a constant divisor or multiplier is to be used for successive operations." 4 page Patent Document Signed with official seal affixed to the lower left corner of the first page and signed by the inventor and the acting commissioner of patents.
Patent disclosures contain a wealth of information regarding calculator design and function. In addition to containing a specific description of this invention, the patent also includes schematic drawings to assist in the calculator's construction. Describing his invention within this letter of patent, Nelson writes, "My invention relates to the simplification of calculations in cases where a constant divisor or multiplier is to be used for several successive operations; and the objects of my invention are, first, to avoid repetition of the more difficult processes of division and multiplication by substituting therefor the easier process of addition, and, second, to escape the labor and liability to error incurred in ascertainig and setting down the intermediate between those given and those required, by setting down on the calculator, once for all, before beginning the work, the nine possible combinations of figures by means of which all of the operations can be performed."
To visually illustrate Nelson's descriptions, he includes with the letters 3 figures of his design. Figure 1 is a "View in perspective of the caluclator," Figure 2 is "a plan, with the larger section of the sliding cover removed and with the necessary slides so adjusted as to obtain a desired result," and finally Figure 3 is "a view of the right hand end of the calculator with the end of the box removed."
By increasing ease of use and accuracy of calculation, Nelson's invention provided an important step in the evolution away from human computers toward calculating machines that was occurring during the last half of the 19th century. In this sense, it laid important groundwork for the rapidly changing technological world of today. All pages in very good condition with seal and original blue binding ribbon intact.
See all items in Autographs, Letters and Archives, Science, Medicine, Technology
See all items by Early Patent Computer Revolution