Samuel Austin

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Радой Ралин

Samuel Austin's first patent drawing
Samuel Austin’s first patent drawing

On 16 September 1886, Samuel E. Austin, an American inventor from Fort Valley, Georgia, filed a patent application for a keyboard-operated adding machine. The patent (see US patent Nr. 370719) was granted on 27 September 1887. In the same 1887, Austin filed another patent application for a keyboard-operated adding machine, an improved version of his first device, and on 28 May 1889 received another patent (see US patent Nr. 403900).

Besides patent applications, nothing is known about the calculating machines of Samuel Austin so (most probably) they remained only on paper and had not been implemented in practice. Nevertheless, they deserve our attention and respect.

The primary object of the invention is to provide an improved adding machine for accurately and rapidly adding together columns of figures, which shall possess superior advantages in points of simplicity, durability, strength of construction, efficiency of operation, and cheapness of manufacture. A further object of the invention is to provide improved means for instantly arresting the rotation of the hands arbor or shaft when one of the finger-levers is released so that the said arbors are prevented from moving too far to indicate upon the dial the sum of the column of figures to be added together, which is liable to produce the wrong sum total; to provide improved means for simultaneously returning the tens and hundreds hands to zero by the single movement of the lever, and, finally, to provide an improved swinging yoke, which is arranged in the path of a series of finger-levers to be actuated by either one of the said levers and without undue friction and wear on the parts in contact.

Biography of Samuel Austin

Little is known about the inventor of these two calculating machines—Samuel E. Austin. Samuel Elkanah Austin was born on 20 February 1847 in Fort Valley, a small town in Houston County, Georgia. He was the son of Dr. Davis Naylor Austin (1817-1879), an early settler and town commissioner of Fort Valley, and his wife Emily M. Braswell Austin (1821-1858). Samuel had an elder sister—Mariah McGee Austin (1845-1930).

Still a teenager, Samuel took part in the American Civil War in Confederate States Army. Samuel Austin died on 16 May 1908 (aged 61) and was buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Fort Valley, Georgia.