Henry Goldman

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

In 1898 in Chicago, USA, was published quite an interesting book, a 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 with 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 the 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 to 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), Sweden (No. 12954), 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 of 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. On the 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 a 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 a pencil. There is a sliding index button at each side of the readout and 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 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 Fanny were from the Hungarian part of the Austrian Empire, as Israel was a native of 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 the 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 a booklet about the exhibitors of office equipment there.

In 1899 Goldman founded the 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 the 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), a 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.