Schickard’s Calculator and The Pascaline
Schickard built two calculators around 1623. One, for his astronomer friend Johannes Kepler, was destroyed by fire. The other is, as far as we know, lost. We know about them only from Schickard’s handwritten letters, which contain sketches of what he had built.
A 1623 letter from William Schickard to astronomer Johannes Kepler is the only surviving record of Schickard’s calculator.
Schickard combined Napier’s Bones, for multiplication and division, with a toothed-wheel system to add and subtract. It is the earliest known mechanical four-function calculator.
The Pascaline was operated by inserting a stylus at, say, the number “3” position in a toothed wheel, then rotating the wheel until it hit a stop. The complicated and unreliable internal carry mechanism used falling weights instead of linked gears.View Artifact Detail
Blaise Pascal was a philosopher, mathematician…and good son. In the 1640s, he invented for his father, a tax collector, a machine that could add.
Pascal built about 50 Pascalines, making it the first adding machine produced in even modest quantity—though he only sold about 15.