The Swedish tabulating machine of G. & E. Scheutz.
Hough, George Washington
Price: 3750.00 USD
1866. [Hough, George Washington (1836-1909).] The Swedish tabulating machine of G. & E. Scheutz. In Annals of the Dudley Observatory 1 (1866): 116-126, plate. Whole volume. lxvii, 126, , 126pp. 16 plates. 227 x 142 mm. Morocco spine, cloth boards in antique style. Tabulating machine plate and last leaf repaired, light toning, library stamp and perforations on title, but very good. First Edition. A description of the Scheutz Difference Engine no. 2, constructed by the Swedish father-and-son team of Georg and Edvard Scheutz and completed in October 1853, and acquired by the Duley Observatory in 1857. The Scheutzes were the first to construct a working difference engine capable of producing printed mathematical tables. The Scheutz machine, of which three examples were built, was based upon Charles Babbage's design for his famous Difference Engine no. 1, which Babbage worked on intermittently between 1822 and 1834 before abandoning the project uncompleted. Georg Scheutz--described by Lindgren as an "auditor, printer, journalist and editor, political commentator, spokesman for technology, translator and inventor"--first learned of Babbage's Difference Engine circa 1830. Although his imagination was immediately fired by the possibilities of such a machine, he was unable to begin designing his own version until 1834, when Dionysius Lardner published his detailed review of Babbage's Difference Engine in the July issue of the Edinburgh Review. Drawing on the information in Lardner's article, Scheutz and his teenage son Edvard began working on their own design for a difference engine, which was both simpler and cheaper to produce than Babbage's machine. The first Scheutz difference engine (no. 1), a trial device, was completed in 1843. A decade later, the Scheutzes produced their first operational engine, the Scheutz Difference Engine no. 2. In 1863 the Scheutzes built their third and final difference engine for the Registrar General's Office in London. The Scheutzes worried that Babbage might view them as competitors, but instead he welcomed their contributions, and assisted them in publicizing their machine. Through Babbage's auspices the Scheutz Difference Engine no. 2 was put on display at the Royal Society in November 1854. It won a gold medal at the Great Exposition in Paris in 1855, and in 1857 the Dudley Observatory in Albany, New York, purchased it for the sum of $5000 for the purpose of calculating astronomical tables, a task for which it was little used. In 1924 the machine was sold to the Felt and Tarrant Company of Chicago, a manufacturer of calculating machines. The machine was later acquired by the Smithsonian Institution. Lindgren, Glory and Failure: The Difference Engines of Johann Müller, Charles Babbage and Georg and Edvard Scheutz (1987). Merzbach, Georg Scheutz and the First Printing Calculator (1977). Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing H 171. First edition.