adding machine vs. calculator

Packard

Senior Member
USA, English
Background:

When I started working adding machines (standard office) just added and subtracted and used adding machine rolls of paper. There were a few very expensive machines that were both very large and very heavy that were able to multiply, but did so by adding the same number over and over again. See: https://img0.etsystatic.com/000/0/5465166/il_fullxfull.164805506.jpg

In 1967 Texas Instrument produced the first pocket calculator. My sister bought one; it cost just under $400.00 (equal to about $2,800.00 in 2015). Because of the cost they were quite rare. I've always called that type of machine a "calculator".

I've always called any machine that spits out adding machine tape an "adding machine" despite the fact that my "adding machine" will add, multiply and divide.

Question:

Should I be calling my "adding machine" a "calculator"? And, if so, how to distinguish it from the non-paper producing calculators?
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Adding machine"-type calculators are still used in business. They have a different set of buttons and a different default mode of use than a normal calculator. If it has "function" buttons with *, <> (diamond), and # or "Total" and "Grand total", it's an adding machine. If it does weird things with decimal places by default (like assuming 1000 is 10.00), it's an adding machine.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "Adding machine"-type calculators are still used in business. They have a different set of buttons and a different default mode of use than a normal calculator. If it has "function" buttons with *, <> (diamond), and # or "Total" and "Grand total", it's an adding machine. If it does weird things with decimal places by default (like assuming 1000 is 10.00), it's an adding machine.
    So if the default setting represents money (0.00) then you would consider it an adding machine despite other functions?

    I think I would too. But does the "adding machine" require a printing function to meet that requirement? I would think so.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "Adding machine"-type calculators are still used in business. They have a different set of buttons and a different default mode of use than a normal calculator. If it has "function" buttons with *, <> (diamond), and # or "Total" and "Grand total", it's an adding machine. If it does weird things with decimal places by default (like assuming 1000 is 10.00), it's an adding machine.
    I understand "printing calculator" but I don't recall anyone calling one that. Perhaps on the carton in which it comes. It is perfectly logical--more logical than calling it an "adding machine".
     

    Shiggles McWhigley

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I do agree with Myridon in saying that adding machines were specifically designed with accounting in mind. They almost always give users the ability to set the placement of the decimal-point and can be customized to accommodate a vast array of bookkeeping processes. There usually isn't any adding machine "default," per se. It's usually done by moving a switch to the decimal place you want. Adding machines are made to be customized to specific business process. Pocket calcs are not. They just perform quick calculations on the spot.

    Also, with accounting, you'd want a tape or "register" of the calculations you make, so if any mistakes arise, you can pinpoint exactly where you went wrong and can correct the mistake a lot quicker than processing everything over again. Adding machines are also more ergonomic so as to provide the quickest way to make critical calculations in a time-efficient manner.
     

    Shiggles McWhigley

    Senior Member
    English - US
    . . . but I suppose you could technically call either one of them either name, because both devices are machines capable of adding/calculating as well as printing information. I suppose the nomenclature only exists as an industry standard. People where I work call them either or . . . it's more a matter of preference (though I'm a stickler for calling it what the industry calls it).
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    There usually isn't any adding machine "default," per se. It's usually done by moving a switch to the decimal place you want.
    Whenever I use someone's adding machine, it is set on the settings that I don't want. ;) When I use someone else's calculator, there is no problem. :)
    Another obvious difference - the adding machine is much more likely to have huge +, +/=, or Total keys (much like the keypad on computer keyboards which started as something for business users).
     

    Shiggles McWhigley

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Another obvious difference - the adding machine is much more likely to have huge +, +/=, or Total keys (much like the keypad on computer keyboards which started as something for business users).
    lol this is what messes me up at quite often. I use an adding machine at work and whenever you want to subtract something, say the number 3 from 4, and then print the answer on paper, you have to key in

    4 +=
    3 -=
    * (total)

    Sometimes, I try to use it like I do like a regular or graphing calc (which I use often for personal and academic purposes often) and it'll take a second or two for it to sink in.
     
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