Arthur Postans

The British engineer Arthur James Postans (1867-1940) from South Kensington, London, applied for patent for an adding machine in 1902 in several countries. The British (patent No. 190224868), French (pat. №339441), and German (DE169346) patents were granted in 1904. The next year Postans obtained a US patent also (US patent No. 786839). Later Postans received patents for the same device, or improved versions, in Austria, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden and three more British patens.

The Adder of Postans (Courtesy of Mr. John Wolf)
The Adder of Arthur Postans (Courtesy of Mr. John Wolf)

The patent describes an adding-machine in which the depression of keys having on them the index-numbers moves a series of drums in such a way that the number formed by the position of numerals on their peripheries and appearing through an opening in the casing is increased to the extent of the number appearing on the key that has been depressed.

The machine (see the nearby photo) was manufactured by the Adder Cash Register Syndicate Limited of London, England, since 1908 till 1920s and was sold under the name Adder. The dimensions of Adder are 120 x 180 x 115 mm, weight is 1.71 kg.

The Adder was a single-column (suitable for adding columns of numbers) single-axis adding machine with three results dials and a ten-key setting mechanism. The three dials are mounted side by side behind the window at the top of the machine. The setting keys are numbered from 1 to 10 and operate on the right-hand (units) dial only. An automatic tens-carry mechanism advances the tens and hundreds dials as required. The clearing lever at the left-hand side returns the three dials to zero.

Biography of Arthur Postans

Arthur James Postans was born in 1867 in Samford, Suffolk. He was the son of a maltster and farmer—Henry Draper Postans (1837-1922), from Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, and Julia Norman (1841-1921), from Colchester, Essex. Henry and Julia married in 1863 in Colchester, and had three children: besides Arthur James, they had another son—John Musgrove (1869-1958), and a daughter—Julia May (1865-1953).

In 1890 Arthur James Postans married in Bloomsbury, London, to Harriet Mary Cocke (Cooke) (1859-1943). They had two sons: Arthur Norman Fleetwood (1891-1952) and Roy William Clivion Lovegrove (1892-1970), and two daughters: Margery Elizabeth Ellison (1895-1979) and Mary Romara (1895-1963).

Arthur became an experimental engineer and starting from middle 1890s he was granted numerous British and foreign patents not only for adding machines, but also for other devices like: driving-gear for velocipedes, electrical ignition apparatus for internal-combustion engines, safety razor, zeroing mechanism, stropping-machine for razors, indicator for cash-registers, printing mechanism for cash-registers or like machines.

Arthur’s brother, John Musgrove, was educated at an Ipswich boarding school before following his father and grandfather’s footsteps as a farmer. He won a gold medal in shooting at 1908 Olympic Games in London.

Arthur James Postans died in 1940 in Alcester, Warwickshire.

Abraham Gancher

The Golden Gem adding machine enjoyed a long sales success through the first half of the 20th century. It was based on the Arithmachine of Heinrich Goldmann (a.k.a as Henry Goldman) from late 1890s, and on the efforts of three inventors—Abraham Gancher (a Russian Jew and emigrant to USA), Nobyoshi Hakrew Kodama (a Japanese emigrant to USA), and Albert Zabriskie.

The Golden Gem adding machine
The Golden Gem adding machine

The Golden Gem was introduced about 1907 by the Automatic Adding Machine Co. of New York, and was based not so on the first similar patent in the USA, taken by Nobyoshi Kodama (patent N. 753586, assigned one-half to Rebecca, the wife of Abraham Gancher), but on the second patent (US pat. No. 816342, taken by Kodama and Gancher). The company’s advertising in 1917 claims over 100000 had been sold by that year. At that point they cost $10 each.

The overall size of the device is 6.9 cm x 13 cm x 10 cm, and it was quite heavy, some 750 g. To operate the Golden Gem, the stylus is inserted into a link corresponding to the desired number and pulled down. As the continuous chain revolves, it advances a number wheel whose value is seen in the window at top. When a wheel revolves from 9 to 0, a tens carry mechanism automatically advances the next wheel by one. (This works well, but advancing the tens carry on multiple digits at once (e.g. from 999 to 1000) requires some extra hand strength!).

Subtraction is possible (via the nines complement method) using the red numbers shown to the right of each chain. Clearing of the result register is achieved by turning the knob at bottom right until all digits show zero.

Automatic Adding Machine Co. also produced a tally counter. It was basically the same as the Golden Gem, except it had five digits, had shorter chains, and instead of the slots in the front there was a lever on the right that incremented the units digit. Gancher also designed a version with a printing mechanism, but this was even less successful than the counter.

Biography of Abraham Gancher

It seems the main driving force behind Golden Gem and Automatic Adding Machine Co. of New York was Abraham Gancher, so let’s see what is known about him.

Abraham Isaac Gancher was a Russian Jew, born on 13 July 1875 somewhere in the Empire. He emigrated to USA in 1892 (most probably due to “pogroms” (anti-Jewish riots) that swept the southern and western provinces of the Russian Empire in 1880s), alongside his parents, Isaac (Chaim Yitzchak) Gancher (1846-1934) and Sarah (nee Berezonsky) Gancher (1850-1919), his brother Jacob (Yaakov) (1882-1958, who became a physician and surgeon), and two sisters: Lizzie Gancher-Bergman (1871-1960) and Fannie Gancher-Husinsky (1881-1966). The family initially settled at Hartford, Connecticut, but soon removed to Waterbury, Conn., where Abraham used to work as a leather salesman in late 1890s.

In 1899 Abraham Gancher married to Rebecca (b. 1876 in New York), and they had a son—Simon. Abraham Gancher became interested in adding machines a few years later and worked in this area more then ten years (he was active in the Automatic Adding Machine Company through at least 1918.) Besides the several patents for adding machines, he got also a patent for appliance for educational, amusement, and advertising purposes (US1075248). Gancher was also a small-handwriting specialist and had, apparently, procured himself a place in Ripley’s Believe it or Not by writing the Bill of Rights on a postage stamp! In 1920s Abraham worked in the family business (industrial surplus) on Broadway, but eventually lost everything in a gamble to buy a seat on the NY Exchange.

Abraham Gancher died on 1 September 1965, in New York.

Clarence Locke

Clarence Elmer Locke (1865-1945), a civil engineer and businessman from Kensett, Iowa, USA, was a holder of two US patents for a simple calculating device—slide bar adder, which became popular as Locke Adder. The first patent was granted on 24 December 1901 (US pat. No. 689680), the second (No. 779088) in January, 1905. The Locke Adder was quite similar to the earlier Universal Adding Machine of George Fowler.

The Locke Adder
The eye-catching Locke Adder

The eye-catching Locke Adder (see the nearby photo), with elaborate Victorian scrollwork stamped into aluminum sheet metal painted black or copper/bronze, is a row adder, made by metal (stamped tin and aluminum), paper and cloth, with measurements: 2 cm x 29.5 cm x 12.3 cm. It used alternating fixed and moveable horizontal bars of hollow aluminum, as carrying from one column to another is manual.

The nine moveable slides show either red or green while in the zero position, and expose either silver or yellow as the slides are moved to the right. Between the slides are eight fixed bars, painted black with white numbers from 1 to 9. The sliding bars of hollow aluminum are manipulated with the fingers in order to determine sums.

The Advertisement for Locke Adder from 1901 in The American Monthly Review
Advertisement of Locke Adder in The American Monthly Review of 1901

A number is entered on a given bar by placing the index finger on the raised knob corresponding to the desired digit and sliding the knob leftward as far as possible. The user must account for a tens carry manually by a combination of a rightward adjustment of the current bar and the advancement of the bar above by one, much as is done with a traditional abacus. The split-colored sliders aid the user in recognizing and carrying out the tens carry operation.

The Locke Adder was a very beautiful, but not a user-friendly calculator. As usual in those days, it was touted as a four function machine, although multiplication and division require you to do much of the intermediate action in your head, then add or subtract the partial results on the adder. The Locke Adder enjoyed a modest (albeit brief) success, thanks to its low price and an extensive print advertising campaign in the first few years of the 20th century (see the nearby image). It was on the market for less than ten years, probably being supplanted by dial adders such as the Calcumeter of Walsh and Morse.

The machine was manufactured by the inventor himself in his company—C. E. Locke Manufacturing Co., 98 Walnut str., Kensett, Iowa. The prices were: 1901-05: price $5; 1906/; price $5 (oxidized copper finish) and $10 (oxidized silver finish with case); 1908: price $5 & $10. It was exposed with success at the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904 (alongside an other calculating device, made by company—an adjustable calculating table). If you believe the advertising, these devices were so useful and perfect that they should have made the invention of the computer superfluous:
Why don’t you use the Locke Adder? It’s the modern office appliance that is practically adapted to the needs of a growing business. The Locke Adder takes care of the computation of business details. No office systematically equipped without it. It’s the fastest, simplest, handiest, most practical, durable, low priced calculating machine. Adds, Subtracts, Multiplies, Divides. Easily learned-lasts a lifetime. It’s more rapid than you and always accurate. Quickly pays for itself. Ensures accuracy, releases from mental strain. Adds all columns simultaneously. Capacity 999,999,999. It is a valuable aid to the busy accountant, and as this useful machine, can be had for only $5.00, one should be in every business office.

Biography of Clarence Locke

Clarence Locke and his wife Fannie Webb
Clarence Locke and his wife Fannie (Webb) Locke

Clarence Elmer Locke was born on 15 November 1865 in Milton, Wisconsin, as the firstborn in the family of Charles Locke (1836-1903), a Civil War veteran from New York, and Mary Elmer (Holden) Locke (1841-1908) from Vermont. They married in December 1864 and besides Clarence Elmer, they had one more son, Wilbert F. (1879-1958), and a daughter, Jessie Mabel (1874-1967), and two children who died in infancy. Charles Locke was a farmer in Milton, Wisconsin, until early 1870s, when he moved with his family to Kensett, Iowa, where he became a prosperous lumberyard owner and merchant.

Clarence Elmer graduated from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, in 1892, as Bachelor of Civil Engineering and in the next year he married to Fannie Webb (1867-1964), from DeWitt, Clinton County, Iowa. The family had five children, but only two of them survived to adulthood: Lowell F. (1894–1978), who became a soil scientist and worked for US Government, and Dorothy H. (born 1904).

In the middle 1890s Clarence worked for a time as a civil engineer in Minnesota, but eventually joined his father’s lumberyard business in Kensett, Iowa, where he worked as a dealer of lumber and coal. In early 1900s he founded C. E. Locke Manufacturing Co., of Kensett, Iowa, to manufacture his patented adding device. Besides the above-mentioned patents for an adder, Locke was a holder also of another patent for a hand stamp (US pat. No. 686815 from 1901).

Around 1910 Clarence Locke left his adding machine manufacturing and merchant businesses and moved with his family to Dona Ana County, New Mexico, where he bought a farm and took up farming.

Clarence Elmer Locke died on 15 July 1945, in Mesilla, Dona Ana, New Mexico.

James Walsh

James Walsh's Calcumeter and Standard Desk Calcumeter
James Walsh’s Calcumeter and Standard Desk Calcumeter

On 17 December 1901 James J. Walsh (1863-1942) from Elizabeth, New Jersey, took out the US patent No. 689255 for an adding machine, type dial adder, which will became popular later as Calcumeter. This stylus-driven cogged wheel adder (see the nearby image) was manufactured from 1903 until 1905 by the company Morse & Walsh Co., Trenton NJ, (a property of James Walsh and Herbert North Morse, as Walsh was the inventor and Morse apparently managed the business), later Herbert North Morse Co.

In 1907 Walsh applied for a new version of his adder, this time with resetting device (US patent No. 897688), which went into production under the name Standard Desk Calcumeter.

The device was sold with remarkable market success (in 1904 the five disc model model was sold for only 10 USD, while the larger machines like Comptometer or Burroughs cost some 400 USD), prospered for a while and then disappeared by 1920 (before its demise, more than 100000 adders may have been made), facing the competition of similar, but cheaper adders like Lightning, and full size calculating machines. Many variants of Calcumeter exist, ranging in size from 5 to 12 number dials, with or without reset wheel, and/or with larger wheels for pounds/shillings/pence/farthings or feet/inches/sixteenths, and/or foldable legs that allow it to stand at a 45 degree angle for ease of use, etc.

The Calcumeter, an ad from 1904
The Calcumeter, an ad from 1904

The original Calcumeter was a portable steel, brass and German silver made (for wheels) device, with measurements (for 5-dial adder): 1.8 cm x 16.3 cm x 5 cm, and weight 350 gram. The Calcumeter was widely advertised in the beginning of 1900s (see the nearby ad from 1904.)

Unfortunately the Calcumeter can be used easily only for addition, because its tens carry mechanism is too simple and forces the dials to only move clockwise, thus subtraction must be performed by adding the tens complement. However, the complementary digits are not shown anywhere (only very early versions of the Calcumeter show them). So, to enter a complementary digit, the operator should put the stylus at the 9 (just to the left side of the stop), and rotate until reaching the digit need to subtract. For example, to subtract 53, one must put the stylus at the 9 of the units dial and rotate it till the stylus reaches the number 3, then to put the stylus at the 9 of the tens dial and rotate it till reach the 5. Then to continue by subtracting 0 from each of the remaining dials (i.e. move the stylus from 9 to 0 on each dial) so that to have added the nine digit-wise complement of 000053, i.e. 999946. After that, add 1 to the units dial to get the correct answer. The end result is that we have added 999947 = 1000000-53, which on the 6-digit display is equivalent to just subtracting 53. Quite a cumbersome task for a simple subtraction, not to mention what we’ll have to do for multiplication and division.

In several sources is mentioned, that some of the models of Calcumeter had so called stored-energy carry (however, this feature is not mentioned in the patents), which is not common on small adders. The stored-energy carry in a sense winds a spring as a given dial is turned. When the dial is turned to position 9, the spring is fully compressed. When the dial is turned one more position to 0, then the spring is released causing it to add one to the position to the left. With a long carry, the carries will ripple across to the left one after another without a great deal of effort on the part of the user other than inputting the single unit on one dial.

Biographies of James Walsh and Herbert Morse

Unfortunately very little is known about these men. About James J. Walsh (1863-1942) we only know his birth/death years, and that besides the abovementioned two patents for calculating machines, he was a holder of another patent—for washing machine (US patent No. 1228149 from 29 May 1917).

About Herbert Morse there is some info: Herbert North Morse Sr. was born on 16 June 1872 in Hammonton, Atlantic County, New Jersey. He was the son of Silas Rutillus Morse (1840-1928) and Mary Jane North (1845-1909). Herbert Morse married in 1899 to Gertrude May Crosland (1871-1946). They had one son, Herbert North Morse Jr. (b. 1907).

Herbert graduated from Pierce Business College in Philadelphia in May 1896. He was appointed State supervisor of the school census in 1898, and Chief of the bureau of statistics of the department of public instruction of the State of New Jersey. In 1903 he became the majority stockholder and president of the Morse & Walsh Co., manufacturer of adding machines, but from December 1905 it became just “H. N. Morse Co.”. In late 1920s Herbert Morse was the assistant commissioner of education for New Jersey.

Herbert North Morse died on 3 Aug 1934 (aged 62) in Wayne, Kennebec County, Maine.

Georges Lafond

Georges Lafond's computer (compteur)
Georges Lafond’s computer (compteur)

In 1899 the French engineer Georges Lafond from Paris received several patents in different countries for a simple calculating device (Austrian patent №6618, German patent №148810, US patent No. 653250, Great Britain patent №189902195, and Swiss patent №19395). The calculator of Lafond was an interesting watch-like circular adding machine (see the nearby photo).

In fact, the patents described three different but similar adding devices:
1. A model based on the duodecimal system in the shape of watch although this counter can be made in any other shape.
2. A model based on the decimal system for any sort of totalization.
3. A model based on French monetary system.

Only one of the above-mentioned devices (the circular one) went into production, although in small quantities. This stylus operated disk adder was in production since early 1900s, manufactured by a famous watchmaker workshop from Geneva—Haas Neveaux & Cie.

The calculator of Lafond is a metal chromium device, with diameter 47 mm, and four sunk silvered revolving counters each with an aperture. In fact, it is a simple form of circular four-dial Pascaline type calculator where a stylus is used to move the individual wheels to carry out addition and subtraction.

Franz Trinks

In March 1892, Franz Trinks (1852-1931), a mechanical engineer and personally liable partner of Grimme, Natalis & Co. of Braunschweig, manufacturer of sewing machines and other household items as well as cast goods, was visiting a meeting of German sewing machine manufacturers in Hamburg. There he met a representative of the Russian company Königsberger & Co. of St. Petersburg, who offered him the patents and distribution rights for the Odhner calculating machines for Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

Upon his return to Braunschweig, Trinks presented the proposal to the company’s supervisory board and despite its distrust and resistance, he pushed so hard, that the patents offered to him were acquired. Trinks argued as follows: If so a typewriter, which only serves to reduce physical work, has found an unpredictable sales area, the sky is the limit for the time-saving calculating machine that replaces the strenuous mental work with mechanical crank. This idea later became the trademark for his calculating machine, with the advertising slogan “The brain of steel.”

Brunsviga Model A, produced in several versions from 1895 until about 1920
Brunsviga Model A, produced in several versions from 1895 until about 1920

It was a costly and risky move by Trinks that should pay off in the future. The patents costed for the company 10000 RM plus 10 RM license for every machine sold. In addition, there were additional costs for special tools, machines and manufacturing facilities. Immediately after the license agreement was signed in April 1892, the reconstruction of the Odhner machine began. As early as July 1892, the first calculating machine under the name “Brunsviga” (Brunsviga is the Latin name for the city of Braunschweig) could be ordered for 150 marks, on 29 August 1892, Trinks presented in Hanover the “new Brunsviga calculating machine”, and it was exhibited in the same year at the world exhibition in Chicago by Germany, which mainly served the advertising strategy.

The first machine, Brunsviga Model A, is almost identical to Odhner’s 1890 design, as described in his US Patent No. 514725. Then followed the models B, C, D, F, G, H, K, J, JA, Arithmotype (1908, first printing 4-species machine), M, MA, MR, M24, MD, Trinks-Triplex, MDIIR, MH , MJ, MJR and N.

The Brunsviga Model A has dimensions: body 200W x 140D x 120H, overall 470W x 200D x 160H; weight: 11 kg. The brass rotor disks are 71 mm in diameter, with the nine setting levers spaced on 9 mm centers. The moving carriage has 10 places in the counter register and 18 in the accumulator, but the tens-carry mechanism only covers 10 of the 18 places. The carriage is positioned manually by releasing a latch and moving the assembly by hand to the required position. The registers are cleared by a full turn of the large wing nuts on either end. The mechanism is very basic, with no safety interlocks and no added features.

The company soon concentrated not only on replicating the Odhner machine, but also began improving the construction, which resulted in different models in order to ultimately meet customer requirements. Trinks got his first patent in this area as early as 1895 (DE87093), and in the next 35 years he received several hundred patents in different countries for improvements in Brunsviga (by 1912, 89 German patents and 152 foreign patents were issued in his name, as further patents followed). The improvements included the installation of safeguards, such as a locking system that could prevent incorrect operation. Devices were also attached so that the crank was always turned completely, otherwise a wrong result could be displayed.

Like the sewing machines previously manufactured, the calculating machines were industrially manufactured in large numbers without pre-ordering and were such a great success that after just a few years the company was only producing calculating machines. Some 80 types of calculating machines were in production line for 66 years.

A Brunsviga advertisement from 1911
A Brunsviga advertisement from 1911

Since the market for calculating machines was not yet developed in Germany at the beginning of Brunsviga’s production, the company concentrated mainly on foreign countries. The global distribution network was used, which had already been created as a basis through the experience of exporting sewing machines. Attempts were made to create new marketing concepts in order to create a market for calculating machines in Germany and to expand the foreign sales market. The Brunsviga story is characterized by the fact that an advertising strategy began at the same time as the start of computer production. In addition to advertising, however, they also rely on advice and customer care, which were based on different service promises. Advertising has mainly relied on the publication of advertisements and articles in newspapers and magazines. The advantages that were promised with the Brunsviga were: No overexertion! No mistakes! No brain work! No loss of time! These motifs were repeated in brochures and brochures for decades. In order for the advertising to be effective, it was supported by an expansive sales system and appropriate user advice and training. In 1905 there were a total of 40 depots or main sales outlets. The company had trade contacts with the most important countries on all five continents. In 1931 there were foreign representations in 92 cities. In Germany, in addition to the dense network of sales agencies, a large number of travel agents were also used, each assigned a specific geographical area and doing customer advice and advertising there. Potential buyers were specifically selected and written to via telephone directory addresses. Contact with customers continued after the sale. The customer service made it possible for every “Brunsviga” owner to be visited by a representative in the event of defects or difficulties. They also organized company employee training for the customers, both introducing new employees to work with existing calculating machines and providing follow-up training. For the representatives there was a fortnightly central introduction in Braunschweig, which was continued with an equally extensive program related to various applications, e.g. in insurance, for construction companies or also dairies, etc. The result of advertising, advice and training was that “Brunsviga” established itself as a brand name so well that it became a synonym for “calculating machines”. The Brunsviga’s trademark “Brain of Steel” was known in many different countries in the English, French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese language areas. Brunsviga also had a significant share in the Hungarian, Norwegian, Swedish, Polish, Italian, Danish, Japanese, Turkish, Bulgarian, Yugoslav, Finnish, Romanian, Czechoslovak, Greek and Russian calculating machine markets.

The “Brunsviga” owed the decisive share in the global success of the calculating machines not only to their constant improvements and innovations, but mainly to the deeds of the inventive, technically gifted and imaginative engineer and manager Franz Trinks.

Biography of Franz Trinks

Franz Trinks (see the lower portrait from early 1920s) was born on 19 June 1852 in Helmstedt, an old town on the eastern edge of the German state of Lower Saxony. He was the second son of Caspar Trinks (1823–1892), a local mechanic, watchmaker and photographer, and his wife Henriette (1817–1858), a milliner. Henriette Trinks was a Jew (the daughter of Levi Salomon (1785–1850) and Rebecka Meier-Bacharach (1782–1855), but upon her marriage in 1847 to Caspar Trinks, who was a catholic, she converted to Catholicism. Franz had three brothers—Hugo (born 1847), Heinrich (1857–1897), and one died as infant; and two sisters—Friederike (b. 1855), and one died as infant.

Franz Trinks (1852-1931), a portrait from 1921
Franz Trinks (1852-1931), a portrait from 1923 (Braunschweig. Landesmuseum)

Franz was educated at the local Gymnasium (grammar school) in Helmstedt, then he enrolled Handelsakademie (commercial academy) in Hildesheim. After graduation at Handelsakademie, Trinks began studying mechanical engineering at the Technische Hochschule (Technical University) of Hanover. During his studies Trinks became a member of the youth association Corps Alemannia Hannover. After graduating in late 1870s, he worked as a teacher at the technical center in Rinteln and for half a year at the Maschinenfabrik Dippe (machine factory) in Schladen am Harz.

On 1 August 1883, Trinks took over the position of operations director and technical manager at the Braunschweig company “Grimme, Natalis and Co.”, which manufactured sewing machines and foundry products, as the successor to the late company founder Carl Grimme (1836–1883). In April 1884 Trinks became a personally liable partner alongside the company founder Albert Natalis (1831–1904), and kept this position until the company was converted into a stock corporation in 1921.

Kurt Trinks (1882-1958)
Kurt Trinks (1882-1958)

Franz Trinks married in 1877 to Therese Uhde (1849–1919) from Hannover, a daughter of the local court baker. They had one son—Kurt (15 Aug 1882 in Rinteln–6 Sep 1958 in Helmarshausen), and one daughter—Magdalene (1878–1963). Interestingly, Kurt Trinks became a prominent German lawyer and in 1931 was appointed Attorney General of the Free State of Braunschweig and in 1932 President of the Braunschweig Regional Court. However, in 1933 he had to leave this post because of his non-Aryan descent (his grandmother was a Jew) and was demoted to the district judge, but in 1945–1950 he was again President of the Braunschweig Regional Court.

Besides the numerous patents for calculating machines, Trinks’s activity also extended to the construction of telegraph and telephone technology, and cash registers. In 1912 he founded a calculating machine museum in which, in addition to “Brunsviga” machines, a large number of historical forerunners and contemporary calculating devices were collected. In 1910 Trinks was honored with the Knight’s Cross II Class of the Order of Henry the Lion. In 1922 he was made honorary doctor of the Technical University Braunschweig. Franz-Trinks-Strasse in Braunschweig was named after him.

On 1 April 1926, Franz Trinks retired as technical director and took a seat on the company’s supervisory board until his death on 2 October 1931 in Braunschweig.

Eri Jewett

In the late 1880s Eri Ferris Jewett (1835-1916), a civil engineer and surveyor from Newtown, Hamilton County, Ohio, invented a simple calculating device, one of the many incarnations of Abaque Rhabdologique of Claude Perrault. In April 1890 Jewett applied for patent, which was granted on 17 February 1891 (US patent No. 446753), as the patent was assigned to Jewett’s second son—Dr. Percy Livingston Jewett.

The calculating device of Jewett is described in the 1898 book THE ARITHMACHINIST. A Practical Self Instructor in Mechanical Arithmetic. of Henry Goldman thus:
More complex in its arrangement, but hardly better in its workings, is Jewett’s Calculator, having seven tape-bands with figures printed thereon, which show through the small openings at the head of the device and indicate the result. Circular holes and a pencil are employed for moving the tape bands and number scales serve as guides. The outer case is of aluminum and about one inch deep. The carrying of tens is accomplished by a mental process, which sacrifices the most important advantage to be derived from the adoption of a computing machine.

Eri Jewett's patent drawing (US patent No. 446753)
Eri Jewett’s patent drawing (US patent No. 446753)

Let’s examine the operation of the Jewett’s Calculator, using the patent drawing (see the nearby image):
The machine is operated as follows: If the machine is to be used for adding, a pointed instrument-such, for instance, as a lead pencil-is inserted in the perforation (marked on the drawing with h), and the card J moved to bring the numerals opposite the holes g in the bars H’ in such a manner that they will read from bottom to top, and the tapes E are turned by inserting the pencil in the perforations e’, so that a row of ciphers will appear in the slot F. We will suppose that the three numbers 223, 179, and 845 are to be added. Beginning with the figure in the units-column of the last number 5 the operator places his pencil in a perforation e’ of the tape E opposite the numeral 5, as displayed in the right-hand or units column on the machine, and moves the pencil and tape to the bottom of the slot f. This causes the numeral 5 to appear in the units-column of the slot F. The pencil is then placed in a perforation of the tape opposite the numeral 9, that being the next numeral to be added, and the tape drawn to the bottom of the slot f, as before, and this causes the numeral 4 to appear in the units-column of the slot F; but the right-hand pulley will have completed a revolution during this last movement and the pin C will have struck a tongued, warning the operator that there is one to carry. The pencil is therefore inserted in a perforation of the tape opposite the Fig. 1 in the tens-column and the tape and pencil moved to the bottom of the slot f, and this causes the numeral 1 to appear in the tens-column of the slot F. The operator then inserts the pencil opposite the numeral 3 in the units-column of the machine, and the tape and pencil are again carried to the bottom of the slot f, thus causing the numeral 7 to appear in the units column of the slot F. The numerals 4, 7, and 2 being the numerals in the tens-column of the numbers to be added, are then added in the tens-column of the machine in the manner described, the amount to carry transferred to the hundreds-column of the machine, and the hundreds are added in the same way, and the final result 1,247 will appear in the slot F. It will be readily seen that as each tape and set of pulleys are independent from the others the operation may be carried on indefinitely, being only limited by the number of tapes and corresponding parts in the machine.
To subtract, the above process is reversed, the card J is moved upwardly, so that the numerals in the holes g will read from top to bottom, and instead of the row of ciphers in the slot F the minuend is made to appear in the right-hand side of the slot. The operator then places his pencil in the perforations of the tapes opposite the numerals of the units, tens, &c., corresponding to the numerals in similar columns of the subtrahend, and moves the tapes upwardly, carrying as in addition, but upwardly, and the remainder appears in the slot F.

Biography of Eri Jewett

Eri Ferris Jewett (1835-1916)
Eri Ferris Jewett (1835-1916)

Eri Ferris Jewett was born on 5 March 1835 in Red Bank, Hamilton, Ohio, USA. He was the son of Dr. Eri Leonard Jewett (1803-1854) and his wife Sarah Knapp (Ferris) Jewett (1814–1840).

Dr. Eri Leonard Jewett was born on 9 April 1803, in Vermont, USA, and was only several years old when removed together with his parents to Ohio. He graduated from the Miami Medical College of Cincinnati and practiced there for quite a few years. In 1832 he married in Red Bank, Ohio, to the young Sarah Knapp Ferris, daughter of Joseph Ferris (1776-1831) and Priscilla Knapp Ferris (1793-1872) from Greenwich, Connecticut. They had only one child, our hero Eri Ferris, before early death of Sara (she was only 25) on 7 March 1840. In the middle 1840s Doctor’s health also worsened. He travelled for three years to Texas after the Mexican War, with the object of regaining his health, but his ailment eventually developed into consumption, and he died in College Hill, Ohio, in 1854, appointing his mother-in-law, Priscilla Ferris, in his will, as guardian for his son.

After studying civil engineering in late 1850s Eri Ferris entered the army and was a soldier in the Civil War, serving first as aide-de-camp to General Rousseau, in Grant’s Army during the Tennessee Campaign, and later as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 138th Ohio Infantry.

Leaving the army in the beginning of 1864, Eri Ferris Jewett married in Newtown, Ohio, on 13 may 1864, Lida P. Brown (1837-1890), who was born in Newtown 8 Jan. 1837, daughter of Dr. Thomas Mercer Brown (1806-1886) and Selina M. (Williams) Brown (1810-1879). They had four sons and one daughter: John Brown (1865–1939, he became a writer), Percy Livingston (1867–1905, he became a physician and surgeon), William Frederick (1870–1937), Arthur Eri (1873–1913), and Madge Ruth (b. 9 Nov. 1875).

After 1864 Eri Jewett lived in Newtown, Ohio, and upon working several years as a civil engineer, he was appointed Deputy County Surveyor of Hamilton County, Ohio, from 1870 to 1873, and then became County Engineer of the same county from 1879 to 1884. Besides the above-mentioned patent for adding machine, Eri Ferris Jewett was a holder of another US patent for Controllable Power-Transmitting Mechanism (US patent No. 894010 from 31 July 1908), assigned to his eldest son John Brown.

Eri Ferris Jewett died on 13 March 1916 (aged 81) of bronchial asthma and apoplexy in Newtown, Ohio.

Henry Goldman

Henry Goldman (1859-1914)
Henry Goldman (1859-1914) in 1898

In 1898 in Chicago, USA, was published quite an interesting book, panorama of existing calculating devices, named THE ARITHMACHINIST. A Practical Self Instructor in Mechanical Arithmetic. In its 128 pages the author—one Henry Goldman, an expert bookkeeper of years of experience, not only described briefly the existing state-of-the-art in this area, examining many calculating machines, including these of Babbage, Stephenson, Lightning, Webb, Jewett, Locke, Wilson, McClelland, Landin, Wiberg, Thomas de Colmar, Tate, Burkhardt, Baldwin, Grant, Spalding, Bouchet, Contograph, Hopkins, Thatcher, Odhner, Brunsviga, Fuller, Thompson, Sexton’s Omnimetre, etc., but also proposed his own adding machine, the so called Arithmachine, a modern reincarnation of the Abaque Rhabdologique of Claude Perrault. Frankly speaking, Arithmachine was a modest device for the time, but this was not the case with its creator, who proclaimed it as the first and only rapid and reliable Computing Machine of small dimensions and large capacity, which is low in price and noiseless in operation, and therefore answers the popular demand and practical requirements in every essential particular.

Heinrich Goldmann (a.k.a. Henry Goldman) was an Austrian Jew, who was born in Vienna in 1859, came to the United States in 1881, and published on improved bookkeeping and office machines. In 1890s, he invented his own adding machine, which he manufactured in Chicago in his company International Arithmachine Co. The 1899 price was $24-$48. In 1905, Goldman left the United States for Berlin, Germany, where he arranged to have his adding machine manufactured by Gesellschaft für Maschinenbau GmbH, Berlin, as the Contostyle. The Arithstyle was a similar machine on Goldman’s design, manufactured in New York sometime after 1910 by Arithstyle Co.

Goldman received quite a few US and foreign patents for Arithmachine and its successors—US patents No. 617094, 624788, 669969, 669970, 681781, patents in Austria (AT71035), Canada (CA68344, CA146538), Germany (DE121108, DE212850, …), Great Britain (GB189910237, GB190804382), Switzerland (CH19471, CH43939), Denmark (DK3251), Spain (ES24363), France (FR387379), etc.

The Arithstyle machine of Henry Goldman (© National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.)
The Arithstyle machine of Henry Goldman (© National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.)

The Arithstyle (see the nearby image) was a portable metal calculator, small enough to be carried in the vest pocket, with dimensions 4½” x 1½” x 3½” and weight about a pound, which has nine columns of chains. The two rightmost are silver-colored, the next three copper-colored, the next three silver-colored, and the leftmost copper-colored. In back of the chains are nine numeral wheels with the digits from 0 to 9 on them (complementary digit is also shown (in red color) so that it is possible to do subtraction). Digits are marked in red and in black on plastic strips to the right and to the left of the chains. A zeroing wheel is on the right side, with a release button below it for resetting everything to zero. A movable metal decimal marker is attached to the machine between the chains and the numeral wheels. The metal stand has a rubber covering along the two edges of its base. The black wooden case is covered with leather and lined with fabric-covered paper.

The machine’s delicate mechanism contains 440 parts put together with 310 screws and rivets, and it is operated by the series of endless chains which are pulled by a stylus. It has a top sliding index plate with a celluloid inset that can be written on with pencil. There is a sliding index button at each side of the readout, a sliding index pointer below the readout.

The Arithstyle has some notable similarities to the Rapid Computer of Peter J. Landin, especially the fact that the width of its columns matches that of the columns in a standard ledger book. There is a small frame that the operator can extend from the front of the machine to surround the numbers in the ledger that you are adding. The machine also comes with a stand that clamps onto the bottom, and which allows you to put it on a desk at an easy-to-use angle.

The Arithmachine of Henry Goldman was exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition in New York in 1901 and featured in a number of magazines. The company marketed the product to bookkeepers, banks and related industries as: “Brain resting, labor saving. Readily understood. Easily operated.” “Saves Experts Mental Strain!”. The Arithmachine was the prototype for the quite popular device Golden Gem, which had a long market success through the first half of the 20th century.

Biography of Henry Goldman

Henry Goldman (1859-1914)
Henry Goldman (1859-1914)

Henry Goldman was born as Heinrich Goldmann in Vienna, Austria, on 21 August 1859, in the numerous Ashkenazi Jewish family of Israel Goldmann (1816-1875), a merchant, and Fanny Goldmann (1824-1869). Israel and Fany were from the Hungarian part of the Austrian Empire, as Israel was native from Stampfen (now Stupava, Slovakia), while Fanny was from Pressburg (now Bratislava, Slovakia). Heinrich had (at least) three brothers: Wilhelm, Franz and Moriz, and three sisters. After the death of Fanny in 1869 Israel remarried next year to Caroline “Lotte” Mayer.

Heinrich Goldmann emigrated to New York, United States, in 1881, and was renamed from the immigration authorities to Henry Goldmann (later he became Goldman). Interestingly, there was another Henry Goldman in New York at the same time, and he was the famous banker and senior partner of Goldman, Sachs Co., Henry Goldman (1857-1937). Sadly (for our hero) they were (most probably) not relatives, although both had a grandfather named Wolf Goldmann (the bankers Goldman are also Ashkenazi Jews, but are native from Bavaria, not from Austria).

In 1883 Goldman published his first book, the 20-page booklet “The Electric Detector: A Complete System for Testing Arithmetical Results without Refiguring”, about the method of casting out nines. In 1884 he moved to Chicago, where he published various booklets about accounting and bookkeeping methods, and the monthly magazine “The Office Men’s Record”, a quarterly magazine for office workers. In 1893 he exhibited at Chicago World’s Fair, and wrote booklet about the exhibitors of office equipment there.

In 1899 Goldman founded International Arithmachine Company to make the Arithmachine. Previously he was using the Office Men’s Record Company to produce them. In 1900 he exhibited at International Universal Exposition in Paris, in 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition in New York, and received a diploma and gold medal at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1898.

In 1905 Goldman moved to Berlin, Germany, where he founded Gesellschaft für Maschinenbau und elektrische Neuheiten GmbH to produce his adding machine under the name Contostyle. In 1907 he founded Arithstyle Kommanditgesellschaft for producing the machine. It was apparently renamed Arithstyle at some point. In 1908-1909 he published magazine “Modern Office: The Illustrated International Magazine of Progressive Office Management”, in German and English, and was the initiator of the first Berlin Office Exhibition.

Henry Goldman was a holder of quite a few patents not only for the above-mentioned calculating devices, but also for file-fastening (US507899), register and clearing mechanism (US669969), chain locking mechanism (US669970), parallel ruler (US677777), etc.

In 1911 Henry Goldman moves back to New York and starts the Arithstyle Company to produce the Arithstyle there, but soon died on 28 February 1914, in New York, after a stomach operation.

Alvan Macauley

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
Andre Gide

James Alvan Macauley (1872-1952)
James Alvan Macauley (1872-1952)

In 1895 the young engineer and lawyer James Alvan Macauley (1872-1952) became patent attorney for National Cash Register (NCR) in Dayton, Ohio. In the next 1896 he applied for his first patent for cash register (US patent No. 587042). The patent, assigned to NCR, was the first of a series of patents of Macauley for adding machines and cash registers (US587042, US589476, US595882, US823474, GB190327874, etc.)

Let’s examine the first cash register of Alvan Macauley, using the patent drawing (see the image below).

The primary object of the invention is to combine with a registering mechanism a series of type-bars and type. It comprises a series of keys representing the letters of the alphabet and a second series of keys representing the digits. Each key of both series is provided with a type-bar and a type, and a carriage bearing a platen is arranged to retain a paper strip in position to receive impressions when the type are actuated by the keys in the manner of the ordinary type writer. The keys representing the digits are, however, provided with means whereby when desired they are thrown into operative connection with the registering-wheels, by means of which any amount or number printed upon the paper strip by the type may be also added upon the registering, if desired.

First patent of Alvan Macauley
First patent of Alvan Macauley

To illustrate the use of the device, suppose the operator of the machine to be making out an itemized bill. It is written out just as on a type-writer; but before striking the keys printing the amount the operator moves a dial which throws the digit-keys into operative connection with the registering-wheels, and such amounts, besides being printed on the paper strip, are registered, as already described.

For ordinary use the device is operated in a manner usual to type-writers. Should, however, it be desired to register an amount—say, for example, five cents—I move the dial-plate till the pointer engages the “cents” notch, which causes the clutch-members to engage, thereby throwing the registering-wheels into operative connection with the key-cams. I then strike the “period” key, which prints that character upon the paper sheet in the platen. I next press the “0” key, which likewise prints that character upon the paper strip, but registers nothing, as neither the “period” key nor the “0” key is provided with a key-cam.

Finally I press the “5” key, which prints that character also on the paper sheet and properly records that amount on the “cents” registering wheel, whereupon the clutch members are automatically disengaged and the counters are thrown out of operative connection with the key-cam in the manner before described. When the dial-plate is turned, the clutch member 56, being loose on the dial-shaft, is not affected, but the clutch member 59, being splined upon the dial-shaft, turns with it, and the wide part of the annular slot 60, being moved to the fixed stud 61, permits the compression-spring 72 to instantly throw the clutch member 59 forward into engagement with the clutch member 56.

The gear 50, being fast upon the dial-shaft and engaging the rack 19, moves the gear 45 into engagement with the proper registering-wheel, as already described. Then when the desired digit-keys are operated the amount is duly recorded upon the registering-wheels, and the gear 50 is moved backward step by step toward normal position. The clutch member 59 simultaneously turns back toward normal position, and as the stud enters the narrowed portion of the annular groove 60 the clutch members are forced apart and become disengaged when the gear 50 reaches normal position.

Biography of Alvan Macauley

James Alvan Macauley in 1930
James Alvan Macauley in 1930

James Alvan Macauley, (he preferred to be called Alvan, to avoid name confusion with his father), was born on 19 January 1872, in Wheeling, West Virginia, to James Alexander (Addison) Macauley and Rebecca Jane (Mills) Macauley (1849-1906).

James Alexander Macauley was born in Maghrehar, Fermanagh county, Ireland, on 8 November, 1840. In his infancy his parents removed with him to Glasgow, Scotland, but finally joined the throng of liberty-loving home-seekers and emigrated to the “Home of the Free”, and in 1850 landed on its soil. The family settled first in the Jefferson county, Ohio, but in 1854 removed to the city of Wheeling, Virginia.

James Alexander received his education in the public schools of Jefferson county, Ohio, and Wheeling, Virginia, to which he has added valuable and useful acquisition by his own “midnight lamp”, all supplemented by a thorough course of law studies, from 1865 to 1868—after he had come home from the war, and was admitted to the Bar in 1868.

In 1861, when his adopted Government called for her citizen soldiery to rise up for the preservation of the Union, James Alexander threw himself into the breach as a volunteer in Company E, First Virginia Volunteer Infantry, of which he was made sergeant. Those were three months’ soldiers. At its expiration he re-enlisted in Company A, of the same regiment reorganized, and served faithfully until, in the fore-front of the hot Port Republic, 9 June, 1862, he lost his left arm, and was taken prisoner. As a wounded prisoner, he suffered with his Union comrades at Richmond’s Libby and Belle Isle, when he was paroled, sent home, and was soon after honorably discharged on account of his disability.

James Alexander Macauley was subsequently clerk in the Wheeling post office, then filled a like position in the State Treasurer’s office, and finally was elected State Treasurer for West Virginia (1868-1870). At the expiration of his term he was made Examiner in the United States Pension Bureau.

In 1865 James Alexander married to Rebecca Jane Mills of Wheeling, also from Irish origin from Fermanagh county, and they had a daughter—Anna Macauley-Carter (1866–1947), and James Alvan.

Alvan grew up in a home, where the value of education and hard work was constantly emphasized. In 1880s the Macauleys moved to Washington D.C. where Alvan was educated in the public school system. He attended Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and gained an engineering degree, then he earned a law degree at Columbian College (now known as George Washington University) in Washington, D.C.

Alvan and Estelle Macauley
Alvan and Estelle Macauley

Upon graduating in 1895, Alvan Macauley joined the Washington D.C. law firm of Church and Church as a patent attorney, working mainly for one client, the famous National Cash Register Company (NCR) of Dayton, Ohio. Later Macauley became head of inventions at NCR. In 1896 he applied for his first patent for cash register (assigned to NCR).

On 20 November 1895, Alvan Macauley married Estelle Castleman Littlepage (1873-1976) of Washington, D.C. They had three children: Alvan Macauley Jr. (1896-1982), Edward (1902-1957) and Margaret (1904-1973).

In 1901 Alvan Macauley moved to St. Louis to become the general manager of American Arithmometer Company of William S. Burroughs. Macauley revitalized the company and by 1905, seeking to expand the operation, he set his eye on a certain alley, but the city was unwilling to give it to him, as his predecessor, who had left the company on angry terms, still had a good deal of political influence in the city and was blocking the move. Macauley responded by traveling to Detroit, Michigan, securing an alley and other real estate there, and returning to St. Louis. At night after business hours, he had the entire factory loaded onto boxcars and shipped to Detroit. In the morning St. Louis woke up, to discover that the company had left town.

Alvan Macauley led American Arithmometer Co. (which would become Burroughs Adding Machine Company in 1905), for five years in Detroit. In 1910 he was hired as general manager of Packard Motor Car Co. of Detroit, and became the vice-president in 1913 and president of Packard in 1916. In the 29 years that Alvan Macauley has managed Packard, the company has grown to first place in the fine-car production field. He stepped down as president of Packard in 1939, but stayed on as chairman of the board until 1948. While in Packard, Macauley got a couple of patents for motor vehicles (US1122014 and US2089282).

Charles Lindbergh (right) with Alvan Macauley by the Packard-powered Stinson "Detroiter", August, 1929
Charles Lindbergh (right) with Alvan Macauley by the Packard-powered Stinson “Detroiter”, August, 1929

Alvan Macauley stood 178 cm tall (rather tall for his time, a century ago, American men ranked as the third tallest in the world, standing at 171 centimeters!), sported a clean-shaven square jaw, and had a rather friendly visage, given his reputation for being something of a cold fish. He was a man of innumerable private passions and quirks. He disliked people who jingled the change in their pockets or had gold fillings in their teeth. Many are his hobbies. He played golf, was an excellent marksman (particularly when wild ducks are the target), had a large private collection of firearms. Many of his leisure hours were spent in his woodworking shop, where he made furniture, especially English period pieces. He went to Florida every winter, and to Europe once a year. A sign over his office door proclaimed: “Important If True.”

In 1928 Macauley became President of the Automobile Manufacturers Association. He served in that post until 1945. He was also responsible for many outstanding achievements such as the first diesel engine to lift a plane from the ground, piloted by the famous Charles A. Lindbergh (see the nearby photo).

James Alvan Macauley died on 16 January 1952, in Clearwater, Florida, from an attack of uremic poisoning and pneumonia.

Halcolm Ellis

Halcolm Gordon Ellis (1867-1925)
Halcolm Gordon Ellis (1867-1925)

In 1893 Halcolm Gordon Ellis (1867-1925), a young lawyer from Springfield, Mass., was hired to work as a patent attorney for Knight Brothers in St. Louis, later joining the Office of Jury Commissioner. It seems at that time Ellis began inventing himself and soon became a resourceful and talented inventor. Only two years later, in December 1895, Ellis applied for his first patent (US No. 565069, for cotton-press).

Several years later, in 1900, while processing the documents for De Kerniea Hiett’s second adding machine (US patent No. 699320), Ellis decided to switch his inventive mind to mechanical calculators, so he contacted a friend—the mechanical engineer Nathan W. Perkins Jr. (1861-1932) and they together devised and in Nov. 1901 applied for their first adding machine (US patent No. 707309) (patent was issued on 19 August 1902 and was assigned to the St. Louis “promoter” Charles H. Filley). Although this machine apparently was never produced, it was the start of a long and productive partnership between the two men.

In 1902 Ellis moved to Attleboro, Massachusetts, where he found a local banker who was funding his projects. Unfortunately the banker died next year and in 1903 Ellis moved to New York, Perkins followed. In New York Ellis worked for the American Arithmograph Company, where he had succeeded William H. Pike as draughtsman. Ellis broke with the AAC and formed the Ellis Adding Typewriter Company in 1905 (Perkins managed the company’s engineering division), and in 1909 he refined his new combination adding machine and typewriter Arithmograph with his most critical patent (US pat. No 1199276), which was applied for in 1909 and issued in 1916.`

Ellis Adding-Typewriter (Source: National Museum of American History)
Ellis Adding-Typewriter (Source: National Museum of American History)

The Ellis Adding Typewriter Company built and marketed its machines from 1911 until 1929. The Ellis was an adding machine designed to print on ledger cards and was supplied both with and without a typewriter keyboard. In 1913, his adding typewriter won Ellis the John Scott Legacy Medal and Premium in the category of computer and cognitive science. The award is given annually by the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to the most deserving men and women whose inventions have contributed in some outstanding way to the comfort, welfare and happiness of mankind.

Ellis Adding-Typewriter was a machine, composed of about 3400 pieces, about the size of an ordinary type-writing machine (overall: 11.9 cm x 52 cm x 51 cm) and of much the same general appearance, and it is intended to perform all the functions of a type-writing machine and of an arithmometer or recording-calculator and perform these functions not only separately but conjointly. The Ellis is visible writing, has a typewriter as well as adding machine keyboard, contributing to its usefulness as an adding machine by combining the functions of a typewriter—e.g., its ability to write with a single stroke such words as debit, credit, etc. So it can be considered a complete adding and billing machine and, to considerable extent, an accounting machine. A merchant could have a ledger card for each customer and use an Ellis machine to update a customer’s credit balance each time a purchase was made or a payment was received.

Biography of Halcolm Ellis

Halcolm Gordon Ellis was born the son of a lawyer, John P. Ellis (1840-1903), and Clara C. Bell Ellis (1845–1924) in Springfield, Missouri, on 17 October 1867. As a young man he was known to his family by his nickname, Halley. Halcolm studied at Calvin M. Woodward’s Manual Training School for boys in St. Louis. Later he got Bachelor of Laws degree at University of Washington, then studied mechanical engineering.

Starting his career as a patent attorney for Knight Brothers in St. Louis in 1893, Ellis got his first patent for cotton press in 1895, then continued with inventing machines for laundering, a machine to make shoelaces, heating systems, and an automobile motor, before to focus his inventive efforts in 1900 to typewriting and adding machines, receiving a couple of dozens patents in this area in the next two decades.

Halcolm Ellis was married to Susan Ellis and they had two daughters. In the beginning of 1925 Ellis and his wife made a trip around the world, then arrived in Paris, France, aiming to settle there permanently and to oversee the manufacture of the MAP typewriter in St. Denis (Seine). There he met Nico Sanders (who manufactured calculating machines designed by Roberto Piscicelli), who was Ellis’ sales representative in Paris and actively promoted the use of office machines in France. Ellis and his wife Susan were staying in a hotel at 50 Rue Fontenelles, Sevres, at Seine-et-Oise, west of St. Denis, when, at 3am on 26 May, Ellis suddenly died of a brain hemorrhage, aged 57.