Posted 13 years ago
It was the beveled glass on this machine that blew me away when I first spotted it at the Alameda Antiques show. I’ve seen plenty of antique adding machines before – most notably the Comptometer, a very cool device invented by Dorr Eugene Felt. But they’re usually not that eye catching. This Burroughs thing was an amazing beast, with see-through sides so you could see all the inner workings, and a cast-iron frame and porcelain finish that just reeked of quality. Finally, the Burroughs stencil on the inside front of the glass was perfectly intact, after 101 years.
How much would they want for this amazing beast? $400? Nope… $40. Sold! About a dollar per pound. And a bargain compared to the $450 it cost in 1908, as I learned by researching it later that day on the Early Office Museum website. These Burroughs machines were the supercomputers of their day, selling by the thousands to large companies – too bad we can’t figure out how to work it!
The machine had a lot of grunge, but cleaned up nicely. The handle (which makes a great sound when you pull it) comes out, allowing you to pull off the top and clean the insides of the glass. Inside I found the date 7-16-08 etched into the metal (not 2008!). The 100 year old green felt beneath the key was a little harder to clean… but worth it. Now if we only had some green eye shade!