Harry Rumble

Harry Humfrey Rumble (1866-1948)
Harry Humfrey Rumble (1866-1948)

On 15 September 1890, the young architect and civil engineer Harry Humfrey Rumble (1866-1948), from Westgate-on-Sea, a small seaside town in the northeast county of Kent, England, received a Great Britain patent for a keyboard adding machine (patent No. 14527). Next year, on 3 November 1891, the machine was patented in the USA (US patent No. 462384).

Let’s examine the operation of the machine, using a patent drawing from the US patent (see the drawing below).

The chief object of adding machine of Rumble was to produce at a moderate cost a simple and compact calculating machine with as few parts as possible, which will be easy to manipulate and certain in action.

Rumble's keyboard adder patent drawing (front elevation view)
Rumble’s keyboard adder patent drawing (front elevation view)

The machine consists, essentially, of a series of indicating disks representing different orders of numerals and bearing numerals consecutively arranged and equally spaced around their peripheries. These indicating disks are connected with one another by a peculiar arrangement of carrying mechanism, and when caused to rotate indicate in progression through sight-apertures in a casing which encloses them the sum of the numbers added.

The rotation of any of the indicating disks is affected by the depression of anyone of a series of operating keys carried by a movable key-bar, each key of the series corresponding with a different numeral and being provided with a plunger, which when the key is depressed operates one of a set of rocking levers connected with the indicating-disks.

A separate rocking lever is required for each indicating disk. These rocking levers are constructed in the form of frames of varying sizes and dispose them so as to move independently, fitting one within the other. Each rocking lever carries a striking plate of sufficient length to receive the impact of the plungers of the entire series of keys carried by the movable key-bar, and the machine is so constructed and arranged that any one of the sets of rocking-lever frames may be operated upon in turn by the series of keys.

Biography of Harry Rumble

Harry Humfrey Rumble (1866-1948)
Harry Rumble

Harry Humfrey Rumble was born on 21 June 1866 in Eastbourne, Sussex, a resort town on England’s southeast coast, to Henry Euean Rumble (born on 9 Sep. 1834, in Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire—died 1902) and Grace Martha Rumble (née Humfrey, born оn 15 Dec. 1838 in Upton, Berkshire—died 1894). Henry and Grace had nine children: Grace (1862-1922), Eueanita Blanche (1864-1949), our hero Harry Humfrey, Herbert Montague (1867-1942), Frances Mary (1870-1893), Joseph Humfrey (1872-1892), Ernest Duncan Lambert (1874-1952), John Enean (1875-1944), and Mercy Geraldine (1877-1964).

Henry Euean Rumble was an architect, so Harry decided to continue the family trade and enrolled to study civil engineering.

On 30 July 1887 Harry Rumble married in Greenwich, London, to Kate Rosaline Knight (born 1866 in New Zealand-died 31 Oct 1932). Their firstborn, Horace (1889-1989), appeared in 1889 in Reading, England, followed by Eric (1891-1965). In 1891 Harry’s brother Herbert Montague married Kate’s younger sister, Mary Georgina (born on 6 July 1872, in Ross, Herefordshire). However, at the end of 1891 Harry and his sister-in-law Mary Georgina had an illegitimate son—Humphrey. Naturally, there was a significant family quarrel between Harry and his brother Bertie, concerning the conception of Humphrey. That quarrel led to the migration of the elder brother’s family to Australia (Harry, his pregnant wife Kate, and their sons Horace and Eric), shortly after Humphrey’s birth, at the very end of 1891, traveling on the Oonah, which landed at Sydney on 12 February 1892.

In Australia, the family was established initially in Enmore, Sydney, when on 24 August was born their third son, Leslie Audoen Rumble (1892-1975), who became a famous Australian Catholic priest and religious controversialist. Later the family had also three daughters: Maude Mildred (1894-1926), Phyllis Marry (1899-1988), and Dorothy (1900-1988), and another son, Enean Humfrey (1896-1976). In 1895 the family went to Bunbury, Western Australia, where Harry obtained a position as a civil engineer in a construction company. In 1897 Harry Rumble accepted for many years the position of assistant engineer in the Department of Public Shirks in Perth, and was subsequently relegated to the position of cement-tester, then in 1909, he accepted the vacancy of City Engineer.

Besides the above-mentioned patent for adding machine, Harry Rumble was a holder of another GB patent (No. 120766 from 1918), for Improvements in or relating to Retaining Walls.

Harry Humfrey Rumble died on 4 July 1948 and was interred in the Roman Catholic Cemetery, Karrakatta, Perth.