Collections Menu

Date: 1960s-early 1970s

Inventory Number: 1997-1-1927

Classification: Pocket Calculator

Subject:

Maker: Kingson (1960s - early 1970s)

User: William R. Osgood

City of Use:

Dimensions:

calculator: 16.3 × 4.1 × 9 cm (6 7/16 × 1 5/8 × 3 9/16 in.)

case: 16.3 × 5.5 × 0.8 cm (6 7/16 × 2 3/16 × 5/16 in.)

Accessories: leather slide case; single sheet of paper with instructions for use folded and inside the leather case

DescriptionThe pocket calculator is stored in a rectangular plastic slide case that opens on one of the small ends. The calculator is a steel rectangle partitioned into four squares, outlined with a thin blue line. The topmost square contains the maker and instrument name. The bottom square contains a chart of fraction and decimal equivalences written in blue letters.

The central two squares constitute the calculating mechanism. Each of these squares consists of six vertical tracks with numerals listed to the right. The tracks in the two squares line up vertically. There are six perforated steel strips underneath the face plate of the calculator such that the two vertically aligned tracks in the two squares reveal the same steel strip. One half of each strip is colored red and the other half is uncolored steel. Users rotate the strips by inserting an operation stylus into the perforated teeth of the steel strip and sliding it to the desired position. There is a horizontal row of circular windows in between the two squares that reveals red numerals. Whatever numeral is next to the top of the red portion of the strip in the bottom track will appear in the window. When a strip is pushed all the way up, the top track will reveal entirely steel teeth and a small red, downward facing arrow will appear in the numeral window. Users perform arithmetic operations by sequentially adjusting the placement of the perforated steel strips in the six tracks. An aluminum handle pulls out of the top of the calculator on two sliding brass arms. Pulling it all the way out resets the device to 0.

The topmost of these two squares facilitates addition, and it is labeled "+ ADDITION" above. The four leftmost tracks are against a blue background and the numerals are in white lettering. The two rightmost tracks are against a white background and the numerals are in blue lettering. The numbers next to each track begin with 9 at the top and descend to 0 at the bottom. The bottommost of these two squares facilitates subtraction, and is labeled "- SUBTRACTION" beneath. The four leftmost tracks are against a white background and the numerals are in blue lettering. The rightmost tracks are against a blue background and the numerals are in white lettering. The numbers next to each track begin with 0 at the top and descent to 9 at the bottom.

There is a curled steel triangle on the right side of the calculator. It is designed to hold the long cylindrical operating stylus for rotating the serrated strips. The stylus is missing from this specific object but an image of a similar calculator with its stylus attached can be see here. The model shown there has a slide rule on the back. 1997-1-1927 does not. The back of the calculator is blank.

The calculator comes with a single sheet of instructions folded and slid into the instrument case. It lists three rules for operating the calculator.

The central two squares constitute the calculating mechanism. Each of these squares consists of six vertical tracks with numerals listed to the right. The tracks in the two squares line up vertically. There are six perforated steel strips underneath the face plate of the calculator such that the two vertically aligned tracks in the two squares reveal the same steel strip. One half of each strip is colored red and the other half is uncolored steel. Users rotate the strips by inserting an operation stylus into the perforated teeth of the steel strip and sliding it to the desired position. There is a horizontal row of circular windows in between the two squares that reveals red numerals. Whatever numeral is next to the top of the red portion of the strip in the bottom track will appear in the window. When a strip is pushed all the way up, the top track will reveal entirely steel teeth and a small red, downward facing arrow will appear in the numeral window. Users perform arithmetic operations by sequentially adjusting the placement of the perforated steel strips in the six tracks. An aluminum handle pulls out of the top of the calculator on two sliding brass arms. Pulling it all the way out resets the device to 0.

The topmost of these two squares facilitates addition, and it is labeled "+ ADDITION" above. The four leftmost tracks are against a blue background and the numerals are in white lettering. The two rightmost tracks are against a white background and the numerals are in blue lettering. The numbers next to each track begin with 9 at the top and descend to 0 at the bottom. The bottommost of these two squares facilitates subtraction, and is labeled "- SUBTRACTION" beneath. The four leftmost tracks are against a white background and the numerals are in blue lettering. The rightmost tracks are against a blue background and the numerals are in white lettering. The numbers next to each track begin with 0 at the top and descent to 9 at the bottom.

There is a curled steel triangle on the right side of the calculator. It is designed to hold the long cylindrical operating stylus for rotating the serrated strips. The stylus is missing from this specific object but an image of a similar calculator with its stylus attached can be see here. The model shown there has a slide rule on the back. 1997-1-1927 does not. The back of the calculator is blank.

The calculator comes with a single sheet of instructions folded and slid into the instrument case. It lists three rules for operating the calculator.

Signedin dark blue boldface type on calculator: Kingson / POCKET / CALCULATOR

FunctionThe pocket calculator is used to perform addition and subtraction for use with totals up to 999 999 or, 9 999.99 when a decimal point is used two places from the right. Pocket calculators of this kind, especially similar models that included a slide rule for multiplication and division, was a cheaper and more accessible method of performing the four basic arithmetic functions that contemporaneous electric calculators.

A description of manual slide calculators and how they work is included in this online history of calculation. Images and a discussion of other calculators of this kind, is available here.

A description of manual slide calculators and how they work is included in this online history of calculation. Images and a discussion of other calculators of this kind, is available here.

Historical AttributesOwned by William R. Osgood (Engineer, Harvard 1917).

Curatorial RemarksOperation stylus is missing.

No place of origin is marked on the instrument or the instructions. However, many other identical models are indicated as being Empire Made in Hong Kong.

No place of origin is marked on the instrument or the instructions. However, many other identical models are indicated as being Empire Made in Hong Kong.

ProvenanceDonated by William R. Osgood's nephew Theodore K. Osgood on November 20, 1997.

Copyright © 2017 The President and Fellows of Harvard College | Privacy | Accessibility | Report Copyright Infringement