If your gadgets are on the fritz, or you just feel like technology is taking over your life, let Fuller’s Computing Telegraph take you back to a simpler time of slide rules and mental arithmetic (and don’t worry, the irony of blogging about this isn’t lost on me):
This “computer” is one of the earliest uses of the word to mean a calculating instrument, and not a person who calculates data. It was originally patented by Aaron Palmer in 1843, but was updated and improved by J.E. Fuller in 1847. (This model was printed from Palmer’s original plate, and measures 8.5 inches in diameter). The circular slide rule was meant quickly (thus the invocation of the word “telegraphic,” capitalizing on the popularity of that speedy new technology) to calculate square measures, cubic measures, timber, grain, and liquid measures, and interest rates from three to ten percent on a daily and monthly basis. A “Time Telegraph” on the reverse side can be used to calculate the number of days or weeks between any two dates.
To assist those who were wary of the new technology, the Computer was published with lengthy instructions on its use. It went through several editions, and accompanying manuals were printed in succeeding years. An 1852 English edition included a 45-verse poem with the set, attesting to the Computer‘s popularity:
Progressive men of every nation,
To business in any station,
We bring a true good working scale,
A right good test – it cannot fail. […]
Six copies of this work have been
Ordered by England’s worthy Queen;
Orders for other six were sent
From British Houses of Parliament.
Now if only it could download music…
*AC85.F9588.852f. Purchased with the Will Andrewes Book Fund. Images may not be reproduced without permission.