Burroughs & adding machines

From: Glen Goodwin <acme_ent_at_bellsouth.net>
Date: Mon Jan 7 00:10:11 2002

> From: John Lawson <jpl15_at_panix.com>

> I believe that in actual fact, Burroughs, after a few years of
> night-and-day work on his mechanical calculator design, including tossing
> one finished prototype out a second story window in frustration, patented
> the *application* of a hydraulic damper to the actuator crank. His
> problem was that if the actuator lever was pulled down by the operator
> too quickly, the machine would jam very destructively. This 'bug' very
> nearly killed the product in the early market. He added what amounts to
> small shock absorber to the crank lever, slowing it down enough so the
> machine could operate efficiently but not be overdriven. Then, there was
> no stopping it and the rest is well-known.

I certainly don't mean to question your word, but can you provide specific

Material published by William S. Burroughs (references available upon
request) indicate that the problem was that *exactly* the proper amount of
pressure had to be applied to the actuator lever in order to produce a
correct result, which was nearly impossible. The hydraulic piston ensured
that the same force was delivered to the machine no matter how much
pressure was applied (as long as it was enough to depress the lever). This
gave the Burroughs machine a huge advantage over competing products
(several of which existed at the time and all had the same problem), and
allowed it to capture the market.

> Now, just a sec, I wanna check my spelling, grammar, syntax,
> orthography, references, style, Flesch Rating, ....

No shit, this list is a real shark tank these days when it comes to
precision in expression ;>)

Received on Mon Jan 07 2002 - 00:10:11 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:34:53 BST