Collections Catch of the Week: Burroughs Adding Machine

The Burroughs Adding Machine KX.87.458.1

Submitted by M. Lenz and Y. Rancourt, Collections Assistants

At the Cannery we’ve had the collections rationalization project in full swing since 2013, going through every item in the collection and giving them some much needed attention (and vacuuming). Every week we come across more treasures hidden in storage, and while we can’t put them all on display (although we’d like to) we can give them some room to shine.

This week we discovered an original Burroughs adding machine dating from 1911 tucked away in the East Mezzanine Collections Storage area.

Adding machines were vital in early businesses of all kinds (including salmon canneries), which is what made Burroughs a household name well into the 1960s, when it became one of the nine major US computer companies.

These adding machines were the first calculators and made for far easier and more accurate bookkeeping. One would enter an amount, pull the lever, enter the next amount, pull the lever again, and the machine would add them together and create a running total which would type onto the roll of receipt paper.

The beautiful bevelled glass sides and front reveal the still shining gears and inner workings of this machine. The wooden handle on the side cranks and makes a satisfying clicking as the roller on the back turns and the gears reset. The buttons are well worn from use in the BC Packers Imperial Plant, but the Burroughs stencil on the front of the glass is still perfectly clear after 104 years. The receipt paper is still neatly rolled, as if waiting for the accountant to return to his desk.

Posted by m.horita
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