Shoebox Comptometers - The A model

The A model was produced from January, 1904 thru the summer of 1906, some 32 months. With only twenty three or so surviving examples, this model seems to have had an unusually high mortality rate and one cant help but wonder why. Assuming that all machines were numbered sequentially, then it would seem that at least 5000 were produced. Its possible that the intense competition with Burroughs' gave rise to a "numbers war" in which each tended to inflate production counts by skipping here and there. Another explanation, however, is possible.

As the Burroughs' adding machine had thick plate glass side panels, Felt countered by providing his new model with this novel frosted glass register cover... Glass cover
However, this much thinner glass was clearly going to be cracked, chipped and simply broken due to the constant pounding and exposure in the forever-dusty, often grimmy offices of that era. How many covers met such a fate is anyone's guess but this fragility could not have been welcomed either by the customer or the factory. A machine operated without a register cover for any period of time would have been subjected to all manner of contamination requiring frequent cleaning and/or expensive repairs. This "transition" model would prove to have a limited life span.

Register wheels The tiny digits must have been another problem as register numerals on the B-model were somewhat larger. All in all, dispite its innovative features and improved mechanism, its seems reasonable that many customers would have replaced them as later models became available. The castoffs would most likely end up as discards, thus leading to a smaller than expected survival rate. So their scarcity may be due to the fragility of the glass register cover.

Known Existing Machines
Serial Comments Owner or Location ------ ----------------------------------- ----------------------- 15034 Pristine w/dust cover & 2 documents Liora 15194 missing glass cover Stillian 15242 cover: right edge chipped Felt Museum, Saugatuck MI 15376 cover: broken - 2 pieces Ralph Meldahl 15661 nice condition Ralph Meldahl 15830 cover: clear glass, minor chip Chris Jackson (with bill of sale, Nov 1 1904 $150) 16332 cover: right corner broken off Roxy Vendena 16717 nice condition 16902 cover: broken corner Peter Bodensteiner 16903 unknown condition 17700 pristine 17057 looks fine! Bill Shaffer 17772 cover broken Les Williams 18206 unknown condition Bob Otnes 18393 cover: left corner chipped rbspjs 18478 virtually perfect colinengland 19270 cover: scratched but ok 19359 cover: right corner chipped Ralph Meldahl 20024 virtually perfect Jay Goldman 20554 opaque/chipped cover Private (Stockhom, Sweden) 20603 missing cover & keytop, rust... Tom Snieczk 21065 cover: chipped corners Sid Saul 21211 unbroken register cover

Locate the serial number of your A-model here
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