- To Babbage's delight, Scheutz and Scheutz complete the first really
useful difference engine, operating on 15-digit numbers and 4th-order
differences, with a printer.
- The difference engine of 1853 does its only useful calculation,
producing a set of astronomical tables for an observatory in Albany,
New York. The person who spent money on it is fired and the machine ends up
in the Smithsonian Institute. (The Scheutzes did make a second similar machine,
which had a long useful life in the British government.)
- Babbage produces a prototype section of the Analytical Engine's
"mill" (CPU) and printer. No more is ever assembled.
- Ramon Verea, living in New York City, invents a calculator with an
internal multiplication table; this is much faster than the shifting
carriage or other digital methods. He isn't interested in putting it into
production; he just wants to show that a Spaniard can invent as well as
- A committee investigates the feasibility of completing the Analytical
Engine and concludes that it is impossible now that Babbage is dead.
The project becomes somewhat forgotten and is unknown to most of the people
mentioned in the last part of this chronology.
- Dorr E. Felt (1862-1930), of Chicago, makes his "Comptometer".
This is the first calculator where numbers are entered by pressing
keys as opposed to being dialed in or similar awkward methods.
- Felt invents the first printing desk calculator.
- US Census results are tabulated for the first time with significant
mechanical aid: the punch card tabulators of Herman Hollerith
(1860-1929) of MIT, Cambridge, Mass. This is the start of the punch card
industry (thus establishing the size of the card, the same as a US $1 bill
(then)). The cost of the census tabulation rises by 98% from the previous
one, in part because of the temptation to use the machines to the fullest
and tabulate more data than formerly possible. The use of electricity to
read the cards is also significant.
- William S. Burroughs (1857-1898), of St. Louis, invents a machine
similar to Felt's but more robust, and this is the one that really
starts the office calculator industry. (The calculators are still hand
powered at this point, but electrified ones follow in not too many years.)