The Comptometer to the right is a Model F, made between 1919 and 1920. It is the mass-produced successor to the smaller (and rarer) Model E (1913-1914) to the left. The Model E introduced a "control-key" mechanism to prevent errors from half-presses, but Model F simplified it.

Like with other Comptometers, you just press corresponding keys to add. Trained Comptometer operators performed calculations by feel (odd keys were concave, even were flat) and mostly one-handed so their eyes and left hand could stay on the sheet of figures. Here's 31337 + 5.

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To subtract, use the small digits on the keys instead of the large, subtract one from the subtrahend, and hold down the correct switch in the front to prevent the one from carrying. To do 31342 - 42, I press 41 in small digits (58 in large digits) while holding the front switch.

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Multiplication is easy and fast. Just do repeated addition for the first digit in the multiplier and shift left until each digit is accounted for. Here is 768 x 1024.

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You do division w/ repeated subtraction using small digits (minus one!) starting from the left, shifting right when leftmost digit in dividend is 0. You don't use the front switch so that carried digits form the quotient in the register. Here is 145 / 12 = 12 remainder 1.

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To clear the register, pull the lever back then forward. It makes a satisfying noise when the register clears or carries. This was designed for mostly one-handed operation and future revisions just require you to pull the lever forward to clear.

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This red button is part of the control key mechanism. Operators touch-typed, and partial key presses would increment the register only partway. If you press a key part-way down, all other columns lock until you go back and fix that column and press the red button to clear.

While they aren't as pretty as Burroughs adding machines, Comptometers are *fast* and functional (you can calculate square roots on them!) and are my favorite from this era. There's a reason they stuck around with only minor tweaks until the age of electronic calculators.

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