Hugo Cook

Hugo Cook's first patent drawing (US patent No. 430001)
Hugo Cook’s first patent drawing, side elevation and top plan view (pat. 430001)

The Indiana born prominent American engineer, inventor and instrument maker Hugo Cook (1857-1944) was a holder of many US and Canada patents from 1883 until 1925 for various devices (like sewing machine implements, bicycle spokes, autographic register, motor vehicle traction apparatus, etc.), between them quite a few calculators (adding machines and cash registers).

His first patent for registering and adding machine (US patent No. 430001, see the nearby image) Cook got in June 1890 (application filed in July 1889). The device was designed for use by store-keepers and others as a means for accurately registering the amounts or values of sales, and it has for its object to simplify and cheapen the construction of devices of this character without impairing their efficiency.

The machine has several key-levers with different values inscribed, and an escapement-wheel controlled by each key, with a number of teeth bearing the proper relation thereto. For instance, the illustrated machine has a designated (marked with R’) key as a “five-cent key”, and escapement-wheel I’, controlled by the five-cent key, with twenty teeth, so that the distance between each two teeth representing the twentieth part of one hundred, i.e. the twentieth part of a dollar. So in like manner there are escapement-wheels with ten, five, four, and two teeth, respectively, to correspond with the parts of a dollar which the ten-cent, twenty-cent, twenty-five-cent, and fifty-cent keys represent, respectively. Each key-lever is connected to a spring (marked S), which upon release of the key-lever will react, restoring it to the original position, and releasing the proper escapement-wheel.

In 1891 Hugo Cook designed one of the first in the world adding machines (cash register with indicator and recorder, US patent No. 464294) with a crank and printing device. Later he was granted several other patents for cash-registers: US445671, US448937, US449311, US483511, US482165, and CA000000041815A.

Biography of Hugo Cook

Hugo Cook was born on 14 June 1857 in Dublin, Indiana, in a family of German emigrants—Ignatz (1819-1 Dec. 1896), and Mary Cook (1826-1895). Ignatz Koch (Cook is the Americanized version of his surname) was born in Württemberg in 1819, and died on 1 Dec. 1896, in Indianapolis. Mary Koch was born in Baden, Germany (as Maria Stuber) in 1826 and died on 26 June 1895, in Indianapolis. Ignatz Koch (Cook) was a mechanic and in 1860s worked in a machine workshop in St. Louis, then in 1870s was a sealer of weights and measures of Indianapolis. Hugo had an elder brother—Julius (b. 1853).

Hugo Cook was educated in the public schools of Indianapolis, and in a technical school in Saint Louis, Mo. He also received instruction in mathematics and surveying from Prof. Stephens, of Indianapolis.

After spending about three years in this line, Hugo Cook turned his attention to the manufacture of sewing machines, in which he was engaged for several years, during which time he invented several machines and made various improvements. He was practically the inventor of the first rotary shuttle machine.

Following this period, Hugo Cook turned his attention to the invention of automatic machinery, and placed on the market various machines and devices of that character. For several years he manufactured special machinery, and turned out various automatic screw machines, and also a successful machine for the manufacture of bicycle spokes, etc.

In the late 1880s Hugo Cook turned his attention to inventing calculating machines, and in the fall of 1888 he went to Dayton with his designs and associated himself with the National Cash Register, for the manufacture of his machines.

In 1895 Hugo Cook organized in Dayton a company for manufacturing gas engines. Cook was president, Charles A. Craighead and William Kinnard were directors. The plant was located at No. 1136 East Third street, and the goods manufactured were from the patents of Cook.

The house of Hugo Cook on 815 Harman Avenue, Town of Oakwood, City of Dayton, Ohio
The house of Hugo Cook on 815 Harman Avenue, Town of Oakwood, Dayton, Ohio

Hugo Cook was one of the most skilled and thorough men in the manufacturing business in Dayton, enjoying a reputation in the business world for progressiveness and enterprise, coupled with integrity and sound business principles. He was a member of the Masonic order, being a Knight Templar and a member of Reed Commandery.

In early 1870s Hugo Cook acquired a large parcel on 815 Harman Avenue, in the Town of Oakwood, today part of City of Dayton, Ohio, and built initially a carriage house and experimental workshop, in which he spent a large portion of his time. Then in 1880s he built a beautiful house for his family (see the nearby photo of the house), and lived there until 1906. In Oakwood his neighbors include Orville Wright, the coinventor of the airplane, and John Patterson, the founder of the National Cash Register Co., who used the numerous inventions of Cook in his machines.

Hugo Cook married in 1879 to Anna Maria Wilmer (b. July 1854—d. 5 Oct. 1901). Hugo Cook died on 2 March 1944, in Indianapolis and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.