Friedrich Arzberger

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Albert Einstein

Friedrich Arzberger (1833-1905)
Friedrich Arzberger (1833-1905)

In the middle of the 1860s, the young Austrian mining engineer and professor Friedrich (Fritz) Arzberger constructed one of the early column adding machines with keys (after the pioneering machines of James White, Luigi Torchi, and Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué), although it possess only two keys—for numbers 1 and 3. The device looks like an experimental model and was probably a small plaything for the young engineer.

The adding device (Addirmaschine) of Fritz Arzberger was initially presented in the journal Schweizerische Polytechnische Zeitschrift, Volume 11 (1866), Issue 2, pp. 33 (see the page 33) and 34 (see the page 34), and was later in 1896 described by Фон-Бооль, in his book Приборы и машины для механическаго производства арифметических действий.

The adding device of Arzberger (see the lower drawing) consists of a plate (marked with a), which can be put in a tilted position using a wedge. On the plate is mounted a rotatable big 200-teeth ratchet wheel (b). The two keys (I and III) are mounted on a common axis (c) and the ending-rods (d and e). The spring (p) returns the key to the initial position after depression.

The calculating machine of Friedrich Arzberger (from Фон-Бооль, Приборы и машины для механическаго производства арифметических действий.)
The calculating machine of Friedrich Arzberger (from Фон-Бооль, Приборы и машины для механическаго производства арифметических действий.)

The fixing mechanism is provided by means of a spring and a fixing arm (marked with f on the nearby drawing).

The movement of the keys is limited by means of the pins (gh, and i). In order to avoid over-rotation during a fast keystroke, are provided two additional pins (k and l).

One of the spokes of the big wheel (b) has an opening (m), to which can be inserted a metallic pin with a key on the outer edge and spring-plate on the inner edge. Using this pin, the wheel can be rotated and fixed to the desired position or reset (the spring is in a straight status during the normal keystroke operation, so it is not working).

The null position is marked with an index (marked with n).

The entering of numbers is quite cumbersome. For example, in order to enter 8, the operator must press key III, then key I, then key III and to finish with key I. Interestingly, in the description Arzberger mentioned, that he decided to include only two keys, in order to avoid mistakes during the input, as using two fingers instead of ten is much easier and safe for the operator (one finger for each key).

Biography of Friedrich Arzberger

Friedrich Arzberger in 1851, a drawing from his uncle Moritz Ludwig von Schwind
Friedrich Arzberger in 1851, a drawing from his uncle Moritz Ludwig von Schwind

Friedrich Franz Ludwig (Fritz) Arzberger was born on 14 November 1833, in Vienna, a son of the German-born Austrian technologist Johann Arzberger (1778-1835) and his second wife Wilhelmine Josepha von Schwind (15.11.1798-1836) from Stuttgart (a sister of the famous Austrian painter Moritz Ludwig von Schwind). Johann Arzberger married Magdalena Holzmann in 1817, and they had a daughter Ernestine, however, this marriage ended in 1825 with Magdalena’s death. On 3 April 1826 Arzberger married Wilhelmina Josepha von Schwind, and fathered Moritz (12.01.1827-14.03.1892), who became a very good engineer and inventor, our hero Friedrich, and Augustine Freiin Arzberger-von Schwind (1829-1880).

Johann Arzberger was born on 10 April 1778 in Arzberg im Baireuthischen, and acquired his scientific education in Koburg and Erlangen. He was hired in December 1808 as director of the physical-mechanical instrumental factory in Daubrawitz in Moravia, and in 1815 as director of mechanical engineering at the ironworks in Blansko near Brno. In Jan 1816 he received the professorship of mechanical engineering at the Vienna Polytechnic Institute and the management of the local model workshop, both of which he held until his death in 1835. He published several treatises on subjects of mechanics, and made valuable experiments on the elasticity of water vapor at different temperatures. He was a talented engineer and inventor (he was a pioneer of urban street lighting and in 1820 he constructed a steam car, which was determined to move on ordinary roads without the use of rails).

Unfortunately, Johann Arzberger died on 18 Dec 1835 of apoplexy, when Friedrich was only two years old. The next year, 1836, died Friedrich’s mother, Wilhelmine. Friedrich’s eldest uncle August Freiherr von Schwind (1800-1892), a highly ranked Austrian government officer, took over the guardianship of his sister’s children (with the help of his younger brothers, Moritz, a prominent Austrian painter, and Franz, a very good engineer), and he gave them a good education. During his school years, Fritz dealt with his father’s tools, with locks, watchmaker, and carpentry work, and worked in the workshops of friendly craftsmen. During the Revolution of 1848, Fritz Arzberger spent with his youngest uncle Franz Karl Augustin von Schwind (1806-1877), who worked as a manager of the salt mines in Bad Aussee. Friedrich also gained professional experience there.

In 1851 Arzberger commenced his education at the Polytechnic Institute in Vienna, then moved to Bergakademie (Mining Academy) in Schemnitz and Montanlehranstalt in Leoben, where he studied mathematics and chemistry in particular. In 1856 Arzberger graduated at Leoben.

After spending some time from 1856 studying mines throughout Europe, and gaining some practical experience with his brother Moritz who ran a company in the iron industry in Waidhofen an der Ybbs, in 1861 Arzberger became a control officer of the Imperial Mining and Metallurgy in Jenbach. In 1863-1866 he managed the operation of two blast furnaces in Vordernberg.

In 1866 Arzberger started his career as a professor, initially in Bergakademie (Mining Academy) in Příbram, then from 1877, he was a professor of mechanical technology in TU Brünn (now Brno, Czech Republic), later 1882-1892 he was a professor in Technische Hochschule Wien and Director of the Normaleichungskommision, Ministerialrat.

Arzberger was the inventor of an imaginative gravity escapement, and was an expert (he had several publications) on electrical clocks. In the 1870s he developed several medical instruments like a hemorrhoidal cooler, heart-cooler, etc. For his merits, he was granted Knight of the Leopold Order.

Friedrich Arzberger married Maria Arzberger (Westhauser) (died 20 Feb 1903) and they had two children— Dr. Johann (Hans) Arzberger (26.11.1862-23.03.1946) and Wilhelmine Klara Auguste von Schwind (29.06.1864-27.11.1894).

Friedrich Arzberger died on 3 August 1905 in Rindbach bei Ebensee.