IBM's Antique Attic

Since the 1930s, IBM has not only created adding machines, computers, and the like, but also collected them. They apparently have an amazing historical collection of "counting and reckoning tools and devices," some of which can be checked out online. Joel has the details over at Boing Boing Gadgets. Seen here is a Hahn Calculator from 1774. It could multiply, divide, add, and subtract up to values with 12 digits. "IBM's 'Antique Attic' Gallery"


  1. It’s used for calculating how many candles are on your birthday cake!

    What it doesn’t do, however, is spell check post headings apparently.

  2. Calculators like this are what America’s kids need. 18th Century calculators and slide rules.

  3. IBM also created counting and algorithmic machines for the Nazis, to help them become more ‘efficient’ during the holocaust.

    I wonder if those machines too, are on display?

  4. Attick – 1 definition – A chilled out smoking place, where any true stoner feels at home.
    IBM: I had no idea!!

  5. When you wind it, does it play music? And then the answer pops up on a spring? Cause that would be Awesome.

  6. Amazing stuff. The pictures on their site are rather disappointing, though. Can someone buy IBM a better camera, or maybe donate them some bandwidth? I haven’t seen photos that heavily compressed in a long time.

  7. When I am made President For Life, this is so going in one wing of the Presidential Palace. For Posterity, you understand.

  8. Hollerith Machine [see image via url below]:

    All governments gather information about their citizens. The Nazi regime, however, used such information to track political opponents, enforce racial policies, and, ultimately, implement mass murder. As early as 1934, various government bureaus began to compile card catalogs identifying political and racial enemies of the regime, such as Freemasons, Jews, Sinti and Roma (Gypsies), and “genetically diseased” persons. The 1939 census became the basis for a national register of Jews. That year, German census forms for the first time included explicitly racial categories. Jews were identified not only by religious affiliation, but by race as well. Within three years, the completed national register of Jews and some Jewish Mischlinge (“mixed breeds”) was to become one of the sources for Nazi deportation lists. Most of those deported perished in the Holocaust.

    During the 1930s and 1940s, Hollerith machines were the best data processing devices available. The Nazi regime employed thousands of people in 1933 to 1939 to record national census data onto Hollerith punch cards. The SS used the Hollerith machines during the war to monitor the large numbers of prisoners shipped in and out of concentration camps. The machines were manufactured by DEHOMAG-Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft or German Hollerith Machine Company, a subsidiary of IBM since 1922.

  9. During the next twenty-five years, IBM’s organization and product lines grew steadily. Despite the Great Depression of the 1930s, IBM continued to develop and manufacture new products, and after the Social Security Act of 1935 secured a major government contract to maintain employment data for 26 million people. IBM’s archive website describes this as “the biggest accounting operation of all time,” and it opened the door for a variety of other government contracts. In 1928, IBM introduced a new 80 column rectangular-hole punched card. This format became the standard “IBM Card” that was used by the company’s tabulators and computers for many decades. The rise of Nazi Germany and the onset of World War II had a profound impact on IBM. Like many U.S. businesses, IBM had relationships and contracts with the German military/industrial technocracy.

  10. There’s a book I found years ago (dear lazyweb, please find it) that traced the origins of the memes behind both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia as originating in the United States, although enacted to their logical extremes in those other two governments.

    Of course, as conflict arose between the USA and Nazi Germany, and later Soviet Russia, both warring governments agreed on covering up the origins of those ideologies. For the Nazis and the Soviets, they sought to claim their ideologies as indigenous, while the USA sought to distance itself from them.

    c.f. Judgment at Nuremberg, The Living Dead by Adam Curtis

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