Tuesday, December 09, 2014


 Searching through that old 1947 Snips and Cuts yearbook for my old football heroes, this ad in the back caught my attention.  What the heck was a comptometer?   And I don't remember ever hearing about the "Independence Building" either.

The almost competent research staff here at the CHS54 corporate headquarters in the Myers Towers discovered that the Comptometer was the first commercially successful key-driven mechanical calculator, patented in the USA by Dorr E. Felt in 1887.

Learning how to use the thing wasn't easy, so Comptometer Schools did a booming business for many years.

The Comptometer began to be replaced by electronic calculators around 1966.  But the first ones were expensive, costing over $1,000.  That's in 1966 dollars. That was about the time the first computers were showing up, but those machines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and were so large that they required almost a complete building to house them.

 Texas Instruments invented the desktop calculator and by the 1970's they were profoundly changing the lives of Americans, and indeed the world. But they were still pricey, $200 was not unusual. By 1972, the prices had plunged to around $25.

I picked up a pocket calculator last week at Staples for $5.  I saw a few smaller ones on sale for a dollar.

Independence Bld

And, I learned that the Independence Building, once the tallest building in North Carolina built in
1909 by J.A. Jones Construction and imploded on September 27, 1981 to make way for 101 Independence Center. It originally had 12 floors but 2 more were added in 1928.

Ain't the Internet wonderful!