Zeibig, Straßberger and Schumann

Eduard Zeibig (left) and Eugen Straßberger (right)
Eduard Zeibig (left) and Eugen Straßberger (right)

In 1895 three of the mechanics, who worked in the factory of Arthur Burkhardt in Glashütte—Ernst Eduard Zeibig (1856-1944), Friedrich Eugin Straßberger (1857-1945), who started with Curt Dietzschold in 1878, and Josef Schumann (1862-1913), who was a foreman in the factory, decided to leave and to found a new factory for calculating machines—Rechenmaschinen-Fabrik “Saxonia” Schumann & Cie (there was an anonymous donor who believed in the entrepreneurial spirit of the three mechanics because they had no money to start a company.)

In this factory was produced the successful calculating machine Saxonia. Schumann left the company in 1912 (probably due to poor health because he died the next year), but the founders Zeibig & Straßberger continued to run the company together. Later on in 1920, the factory Saxonia merged with Burkhardt’s factory, and the newly joined company United Glashütte Rechenmaschinenfabriken was opened. It will continue production up to March 1929 when a bankruptcy of the company was opened.

One of the first models of Saxonia calculating machine (Courtesy of Nico Baaijens, www.calculi.nl)
One of the first models of Saxonia calculating machine (Courtesy of Nico Baaijens)

Joseph Schumann was born in 1862 in Kostenblut, a village in Silesia, and learned watchmaking there. After his apprenticeship, he worked for some time for the prominent German clockmaker Gustav Eduard Becker (1819-1885) in Freiburg, Silesia (now Świebodzice, Poland). In 1883 Schumann moved to Glashütte and worked there for several years as a mechanic in Burkhardt’s calculating machine factory, then was appointed foreman. He died on 22 September 1913, in Glashütte at the age of 51.

The first models of the machine certainly are almost identical to Burkhardt’s Arithmometer, but later models had many improvements, such as a rotary setting lever by which a dust-tight encapsulation mechanism was possible, a moment cancellation mechanism, rolling box lid. There was even a model with a keyboard, instead of the traditional sliders of stepped-drum machines.

Over 12000 Saxonia machines were manufactured and sold from 1895 to 1914.