Andrew Stark

The American Andrew Stark (1852-1920) from Chicago was a prolific inventor from the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was a holder of quite a few patents for agricultural machines and furniture like: grain-binders, harvesters, railway facilities, folding bed, sofa, fiber vessel, etc.

In October 1883 Andrew Stark filed patent applications, and in November 1884 he got patents for two rather interesting adding machines, which deserve our attention, although they had not been implemented in practice. In fact, the first patent (US patent Nr. 308528) of Stark was assigned to La Verne Noyes (another engineer, inventor, and businessman from Chicago), while in the second patent (US patent Nr. 308570) La Verne Noyes is specified like a coinventor and assignee.

The first adding machine of Stark and Noyes

Andrew Stark's first machine patent drawings
Andrew Stark’s first machine patent drawings

The first adding machine of Stark and Noyes has a series of numeral wheels (see the nearby patent drawings), each provided with three sets of figures running from 1 to 9 and 0.

Pivotally mounted upon the axis of the numeral wheels at each end are sector gears E1 and E4, in which are pivoted a square shaft E, extended from one arm to the other across the face of the numeral wheels. The shaft E, is claimed to be held in its normal position by a spring so that a pawl, E2, shiftable mounted on the shaft, designed to ratchet or actuate the numeral wheels forward, may engage with any one of the numeral wheels ratchets.

A bail (marked D), is pivoted to standards A1, of the frame of the device, and is provided with two radial racks D3, which mesh with the sector gears E1. It may be conceived that the act of depressing the bail D, will cause the actuating pawl E2, to operate whichever numeral wheels it engages the ratchet of.

The bail D, is held in its normal position by a spring D2, and is provided with nine keys or finger pieces d, eight of which co-act with the stepped plate G, to regulate the additive degree of rotation given to the numeral wheels, while the ninth has a fixed relation with the bail and the bail itself is stopped.

The keys d, marked from 1 to 8, are pivoted to the bail in such a manner that their normal relation to the bail will allow them to pass by the steps on the stepped plate G, when the bail is depressed by the fixed No. 9 key. When, however, any one of the keys numbered from 1 to 8 is depressed, the lower end of the shank of the key will tilt rearward, and, as the bail is depressed, offers a stop against the respective step of the plate G, arranged in its path, thus stopping further action of the actuating pawl E2, but offering nothing to prevent the continuation of the force of momentum set up in the numeral wheels by the key action.

There was small use in stopping the action of the pawl E2, of the ratchet and numeral wheels, impelled by the pawl, could continue onward under its momentum.

The carry of the tens transfer device is of the same order as that described in the machines of Blaise Pascal and Thomas Hill; that is, a one-step ratchet-motion actuated by a cam lug or pin from the lower wheel. The carry transfer device consists of the lever F, and pawl f4, acting on the ratchet of the upper wheel which is operated by the cam lugs b5, of the lower wheel acting on the arms f1 and f2 of the lever F.

The first machine of Stark was provided with but one set of keys, but the arrangement for shifting the driving ratchet pawl E2, from one order to another, so that the action of the keys may rotate anyone of the numeral wheels, gave the machine greater capacity than the single digit adders. Obviously, there were no means provided by which the rotation of numeral wheels could be controlled, it was merely a device for rotating numeral wheels and was therefore lacking in the features that would give it a right to the title of an adding machine.

The second adding machine of Stark and Noyes

Andrew Stark's second machine patent drawings
Andrew Stark’s second machine patent drawings

The second adding machine of Stark/Noyes (US patent №308570 from 25 Nov. 1884, granted to Andrew Stark and La Verne W. Noyes, assigned to Noyes) has a different mechanism (see the nearby patent drawings).

In operating of the machine, starting with all the number-wheels so set that the zeros are visible through the rift S, the pawl-cylinder being so set that the top pawl will be in engagement with the ratchet-wheel opposite it—which is the units wheel-and keys corresponding to the numbers to be added in the units-column being successively struck and depressed, the process of registering the sum and carrying will proceed to any extent, the carrying being automatically effected to succeeding columns, however many figures the sum of the column being added may contain. When the units-column has been added, the pawl-cylinder should be rotated one notch, thereby bringing the pawl which is horizontally opposite the second or tens number-wheel into engagement with that wheel. Proceeding as before with the figures on this column, the addition and proper carrying will be automatically effected, the units-column remaining undisturbed, and in like manner with each successive column until the entire sum is ascertained.

To reset the machine at zero, the operator should rotate the pawl-cylinder until the line of pawls K’ is at the front. These pawls, alternating with the pawls of the spiral series K, are in such vertical position as to engage with the carrying-teeth of the number-wheels. Now, using the thumb-screw as a handle, the plate E being rotated a full quarter-turn, the distance of ten ratchet-teeth, the pawls K’ will bring the carrying-teeth of the entire series of number-wheels into line, and so will bring all the zeros into line. The inventor provides a pin, s, on the plate E and the two stops s’ on the rim, so as to limit the rotation of the plate E to the proper distance to cover ten ratchet-teeth, and to end the motion at such point as will leave the zero-line at the rift S, thus leaving the register at zero, as at starting.

Biography of Andrew Stark and La Verne Noyes

Andrew Stark
Andrew Stark was born on 19 March 1852, in Chicago, Illinois, as the second child of German Americans John (Johann) (born in 1826 in Bavaria) and Catherine (b. 1824 in Bavaria) Stark. John Stark was a farmer, and besides Andrew, the family had also: Barbara (b. 1851), John (b. 1854), Valentin (b. 1857), Charles (b. 1859), Joseph (b. 1861), Philip (b. 1862), and Catherine (b. 1864).

On 17 April 1877, Andrew Stark married Elizabeth Klos (18 Sep. 1856–23 Nov. 1932), also from a German American family (her father: Johann “John” Klos (1820–1899), and mother: Catherine Recktenwald Klos (1824–1899), natives from Saarland, Germany, arrived in New York in 1854). They had three children: Elizabeth (b. 1879), Lillie (b. 1880), and Jacob (b. 1882).

In the 1880 US census records, Andrew Stark’s occupation is specified as a cabinet maker.

Andrew Stark lived all his life in Chicago, where he died on 16 Feb. 1920, and was buried in Saint Boniface Cemetery.

La Verne Noyes (1849-1919)
La Verne Noyes (1849-1919)

La Verne Noyes
La Verne (Laverne) W. Noyes (see the nearby photo) was born on 7 January 1849, in Genoa, New York, in the family of Leonard R. Noyes (1815-1891) and Jane Jessup Noyes (1820-1896). La Verne was an heir (8th generation) of the early settler Rev. James Noyes (1608-1656), a Congregational minister who migrated to the new world from England, with his wife Sarah and his brother Rev. Nicholas Noyes (1615-1701), aboard the Mary&John of London, on 23 March 1634, and settled in Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Leonard (see the lower photo) and Jane Noyes married in 1837 and had four children: Amanda Malvina (1839-1856), Frances Adelia (1842-1931), Samuel Jessup (1844-1863, killed in action at Battle of Champion Hill, Mississippi, in the Civil War), and La Verne W. (1849-1919).

The family resided in Genoa, New York, until the fall of 1854 when they removed to Springville, Iowa, where Leonard obtained a farm and built a big house.

The young La Verne attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. Then he enrolled at Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in 1868 and graduated with a B.S. (1872) in general science as a member of Iowa State’s first graduating class. He later was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Engineering from Iowa State for the success of his inventions and the promotion of higher education.

Leonard R. Noyes (1815-1891)
Leonard R. Noyes (1815-1891)

La Verne Noyes began his career as an inventor when he went to work as a laboratory technician at Iowa Agricultural College in the early 1870s. He eventually left his job at the college and went into business for himself by producing and marketing tools, machines, and devices of his own invention.

On 24 May 1877, La Verne Noyes married Ida Elizabeth Smith (see the lower photo), the daughter of Joel W. and Susan M. Smith from Croton, New York, whom he had met in college. The charming and smart Ida (16 Apr. 1853–5 Dec. 1912), was a teacher, who received her B.S. from Iowa Agricultural College in 1874.

One of La Verne’s most successful inventions resulted from Ida’s difficulty in holding their heavy unabridged Webster’s dictionary—La Verne designed a wire dictionary holder to aid his wife, and soon patented the device for sales throughout the United States. Thus in 1879, La Verne sold his hay-tool business and started a book holder manufacturing company (his holder became a market hit and more than 30000 holders were sold in the first year).

In 1879 the Noyeses moved to Chicago, where Ida followed her ambition to become an artist by enrolling at the Art Institute. There La Verne continued to patent farming machinery, which he sold to implement manufacturers, and his Noyes Dictionary Holder sold modestly well.

Ida Elizabeth Noyes (1853–1912)
Ida Elizabeth Noyes (1853–1912)

Noyes’s most lucrative invention came in 1886 when he (actually his engineer Thomas Perry) devised the aermotor, a device that converted wind to electricity. Thus La Verne Noyes became interested in manufacturing windmills and in 1887 he started the Aermotor Company in Chicago (the company still exists!). It manufactured some of the first steel windmills in the world and became the leading manufacturer of windmills in the country. It also manufactured the first steel towers used for electrical transmission lines. The company also stored the energy in batteries (charging electric cars!) and powered electric lights by wind power in NYC.

With the success of La Verne’s business enterprises, the couple was able to lead a progressively more comfortable life and establish their residence in an elegant mansion at 1450 North Lake Shore Drive. Ida enjoyed traveling around the world, spending months and years away from Chicago and her husband, visiting and making a lot of photos from France, Italy, Egypt, Algeria, Tunis, Israel, Turkey, Spain, India, China, Burma, Hawaii, and Japan. La Verne would occasionally join her on these trips, but his manufacturing business made it difficult to leave the city for extended periods of time.

La Verne Noyes (1849-1919)
La Verne Noyes (1849-1919)

Unfortunately, in 1912 La Verne’s beloved wife Ida Noyes fell ill and died on 5 December of the same year. Her death was a crushing personal blow for La Verne. Seeking to honor his wife with an impressive and fitting memorial, he decided to give the University of Chicago a gift of $500000 to build a magnificent new women’s clubhouse—Ida Noyes Hall, which opened in 1916. Moreover, in his last and most extraordinary gift, Noyes established the La Verne Noyes Foundation at the University in 1918. With this foundation, Noyes provided tuition scholarships to veterans of World War I and to their descendants. To finance this endowment, Noyes deeded all of this property, including his home and manufacturing plant, to the University of Chicago—a gift worth $2.5 million, a huge sum for the time.

Noyes’ hobby was golf, travel (he went around the world), sailing, hunting, and fishing. La Verne Noyes died on 24 July 1919, in Chicago, and was buried in Graceland Cemetery.