Dorr Eugene Felt - His Associates

The list of business associates and employees surrounding the Comptometer, the inventor and the company is surprisingly few. In comparison, the history of Felt's arch rival, the Burroughs Corporation, includes literally scores of backers, financiers, directors, officers, shareholders, and the like.


Chauncey Chauncey W Foster...
Apparantly, Foster was a cousin of Felt's and provided the initial "seed" capital that got him listed as "co-assignor" on the original patent #366,945. However, he withdrew his investment very early and seems to have played no further role in the Comptometer saga.

C Charles Joseph DeBerard...
After Felt had produced his first machine, it seems that Charles Joseph DeBerard, an accountant and Vice President of Tarrant Foundry, introduced the young Felt to Tarrant. He later became a minority investor with a 1/16th interest in the resulting partnership.

Robert Robert Tarrant...
A well-known and successful early Chicago entrepreneur, Tarrant's name would be forever linked to the company that would bring high speed "mechanical arithmetic" to the business world of the late 19th century in America and, eventually, around the globe. His financial backing and support of the young Felt was critical to its early survival.

Apparantly, they also shared an interest in fishing as this only known photo of the two together would indicate.

As Edwin Darby descibes it...

"Robert Tarrant was the owner of a machine shop and forge located at the foot of Illinois Street near the Chicago River. Tarrant's main business was making and repairing iron work for ships in the Lakes trade. Intrigued with Felt's ideas, he signed Felt on as a helper at $6 a week and gave him a bench in the rear of the shop where Felt could work on his invention. Over a period of time, Tarrant advanced Felt about $5,000 for materials and parts and other expense involved in the development of the calculating machine. In return for his investment, Tarrant got an equal interest in a partnership the two formed in 1887 and in Felt & Tarrant Manufacturing Company when it was incorporated two years later."

Little more is recorded about Tarrant once he and Felt split the business in 1902. With effective control, it would have been possible for Felt to have changed the company name and it is much to his credit that he chose not to.

Altho Tarrant thereafter played almost no role in the operation or success of the enterprise, he and his descendants apparantly retained most or all of their minority interest until 1945 when Tarrant's son died. His demise created an estate tax problem for the families which resulted in the company becoming a public corporation.


(J.A.V.Turck) J.A.V.Turck...
Our earliest record of Turck is as the inventor of the Mechanical Accountant calculator around 1900. He came to Felt & Tarrant in 1911 and first appears as joint-inventor with Felt on patent #1,072,934, applied for Apr 5, 1913.

The sequencially prior patent (#1,072,933) was issued to Felt alone and was the last of five covering the ill-fated E-model design. The "joint" design was for the simpler mechanism used in the F-model primarily to support the "Controlled Key" feature. It is easy to speculate that a friendly competition existed between Felt and Turck concerning the best way to implement this important concept.

Over the years several more patents were issued to Turck alone including the critical November, 1920 patents that covered the improved clearing mechanism of the popular H and J models of the 1920s.

While F&T was slow in introducing a motor-driven model (the K-model appeared in late 1934), Turck had already been granted a patent in March of 1921 on a "power-driven" design that was clearly well ahead of its time.

After Felt's death in 1930, Turck took over design responsibilities for the concern. The dual-register SuperTotalizer that appeared in 1934 was undoubtedly his work. Alex Kinmond, a long time Canadian employee of F&T, remembers meeting Turck, then "chief of research" in April of 1940. "The Circle" reported that he retired in 1953, marking at least 42 years of devoted service.

A little known fact of Dorr Eugene Felt's personal life was that he left no male heir. And while he dearly loved his four daughters, he is known to have stated after the birth of his fourth "Well, I give up". Certainly he had wished for a son at some point. This author's conjecture is that Felt may well have taken a fatherly interest in the younger Turck who shared his passion and talents for mechanical design. What is certain is that their relationship lasted some 20-30 years and greatly extended the life of shoebox Comptometers.

Joseph A. V. Turck passed away in 1956 at the age of 86.


(George Steninger Bollensen) George Steninger Bollensen...
Employee-inventor-director (patent 1,074,689, Oct 7, 1913). Bollensen's contribution is made clear from the patent, "...adapting of such adding-machines to direct additive computations involving the use of common fractions of high denominator values." In other words, righthand columns could be configured for fractions and calculations performed as with decimal values.

Bollensen appears to be one of the very earliest of F&T's few employees, having been hired in 1893. In addition to his contribution to the 1913 patent (above), on a letterhead dated May 11, 1921, Bollensen appears as "Foreign Mgr", confirming the worldwide operation that F&T had become. He retired in 1957 after some 64 years of service, a truly remarkable record of loyalty even by standards of that time.


(Kurt F. Ziehm) Kurt F. Ziehm...
Employee-inventor (patent 1,110,734, Sept 15, 1914). Ziehm's patent appears to cover the principles of the Controlled Key mechanism as no other patent seems to mention this feature (but this is by no means a studied conclusion). Interestingly enough, the application showed both the E-model keys and the F-model flat stems, perhaps to cover the possibility that either or both might end up in final production.

In a 1943 issue of The Circle, he is mentioned so his tenure with the organization lasted at least that long.


No others assocates have come to light at this time.

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