Old calculators in Cosmocaixa (I)

I went to a very interesting exhibition in Cosmocaixa (Barcelona Science Museum) last Saturday:

TecnoRevolució Poster

The aim of this exhibition is to show that the contributions to which science and technology have contributed to the progress and social development are endless. In the last decade, these developments have increased exponentially and this is mainly due to the technological convergence. “TecnoRevolució” is an interactive exhibition that seeks to converging technologies: nanotechnology, biotechnology, ICT, and cognitive science. Interconnections between them change the world around us and cause a revolution in different fields as construction, transportation, agriculture, medicine, education or art. The exhibition is very interesting but I’m going to focus my attention in the section dedicated to old calculators.

Photography by Carlos Dorce

I am sure that the nanotechnology and the bio-medics are more important than more than 30 old calculators but I am a little “freaky” and walking around that part of the exhibition was very funny for me. For example, can you say that this calculator Ifach (1943) is not interesting? The Ifach was invented by the Spanish pharmacist Genaro Calatayud. The machine doesn’t have any gear. For adding two numbers, the user had to move one of the two concentric circles with a broach to see the total in the right of the central circle.

Calculator Ifach (1943)
Photography by Carlos Dorce

Another interesting machine is the Stima (1930) which was a portable machine for adding and subtracting. It was made by the Swiss Albert Steinmann based on a Contostyle with an automatic mechanism to see the result in a window at the bottom of the machine. The subtraction was made by the complement number system.

Calculator Stima (1930)
Photography by Carlos Dorce

Of course, there also was the adding machine called Contostyle (1847) which is the oldest calculator of the exhibition. Its reduced dimensions (17 cm. x 9 cm. x 1 cm.) were part of its success because of people could take them in their pockets. Furthermore, the Constostyles could add two numbers faster than other calculators because it wasn’t necessary for the user to move up the broach from the machine.

Contostyle (1847)
Photography by Carlos Dorce

To be continued…

The exposition can be visited until May 6, 2013.

Location: CosmoCaixa in Barcelona (map)


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