Calculator Companies

Home > Calculator Companies

Burroughs

Burroughs Adding Machine Company, 6071 Second Av., Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

In 1886 the American Arithmometer Company was founded in St. Louis to manufacture the mechanical add-listing machine invented by William Seward Burroughs.  These precision machines were very successful, and in 1904 the company moved to larger premises in Detroit. The following year the name was changed to Burroughs Adding Machine Company.
Other manufacturing plants included those at Nottingham, England (1898); Strathleven, Scotland (1953); and Villiers-Ecalles, Normandy, France (1959).

The early Burroughs mechanical calculators were large machines characterised by having glass panels in the sides so the mechanism could be seen.  This became fashionable in other company's machines of the time.  There was constant development in the mechanical calculators through to the 1960s, when Burroughs converted to electronic desk calculators.  They had an agreement to sell in Europe electronic calculators made by Sharp in Japan, but also decided to make their own electronic desk calculators at their factory in France.

Burroughs were notable in developing the 'Nixie' display tube, widely used in early electronic calculators, and the later 'Panaplex' display.

Cold Cathode Tube Display

'Nixie' type display tubes of an Anita 1011LSI calculator in use. 

A Burroughs 'Panaplex' display in use in a Keystone 88 hand-held calculator of about 1974. The digits are larger than those of LED displays of the time.

The company was heavily involved in accounting machines, had early involvement in computing equipment, and the calculators appear to have been dropped from its product lines in the mid to late 1970s.  It only produced desktop machines, and no hand-held calculators.

In 1986 Burroughs Corporation and Sperry Corporation merged to form Unisys Corporation.

 

Examples of Burroughs calculators

Add-lister

Burroughs model P

This is a full-keyboard mechanical add-lister made for calculations in the old British Sterling currency (£sd).

Models similar to this were made for many years until ousted by electronic printing calculators in the 1970s.

This is a featured calculator.

Burroughs C3260

Burroughs C3260

One of the early Burroughs electronic calculators manufactured for them by Sharp in Japan.  It has a very distinctive early 'Itron' vacuum-fluorescent display.

This is a featured calculator.

Burroughs C5205

Burroughs C5205

This machine, with a "Panaplex II" discharge display dates from about 1972/3 and is likely manufactured in the Burroughs factory in France.

This is a featured calculator.

For further photographs of Burroughs calculators see the Calculator Photo Library on this site.

Michael Hancock has produced an interesting early history of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company and its calculators at http://www.xnumber.com/xnumber/hancock7.htm.

See also "Burroughs Adding Machine History": A film on YouTube which shows Burroughs adding and accounting machines, and computers being manufactured and used at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBkZI0jYi3I.

Vintage Calculators

© Text & photographs copyright Nigel Tout   2000-2020  except where noted otherwise.