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Issue No.04 - October-December (2005 vol.27)
pp: 64-80
Bruce O.B. Williams , Birkbeck College, University of London
Roger G. Johnson , Birkbeck College, University of London
ABSTRACT
Multiplication is vital to the conduct of commerce but is time-consuming and error-prone. Many aids were developed over two centuries to address these issues. This article surveys the development of the most widely used of these, the ready reckoner. The underlying principles of reckoner design are explained. To explain their range of use, over 1,250 entries from the major national library catalogues and elsewhere have been classified by application, target user, date, price and format. A sample of different styles are illustrated.
INDEX TERMS
Ready reckoners, pre-electronic computing, computing aids, multiplication aid
CITATION
Bruce O.B. Williams, Roger G. Johnson, "Ready Reckoners", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.27, no. 4, pp. 64-80, October-December 2005, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2005.64
REFERENCES
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11. Collins National Ready Reckoner, Collins, 1959, quote from preface.
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44. Office Magazine, June 1923.
45. W. Campbell, Office Management, Pitman, 1933.
46. H.P. Cemach, Elements of Punched Card Accounting, Pitman, 1951.
47. "Good Ideas from Unilever Ready-Reckoners," Office Magazine, Nov. 1958.
48. A.F. Warburton, "Calculator Terminology," Office Magazine, Jan. 1959.
49. L.M. Nation-Tellery, Office Magazine, Sept. 1960.
50. J.C. Oehlschlager, The Ready Reckoner or the Business Man's Companion, Winnipeg, Canada, undated.
51. W. Leybourne, Ready Reckoner or Trader's Sure Guide, Dilly, Rivington, et al., London, 1798.
52. Ibid., p. 83.
53. J. Gall Inglis, The Express Ready Reckoner, Gall and Inglis, Edinburgh, 1920, quote from preface.
54. S. Simpson and E. Wise, The Readiest Reckoner Ever Invented, 13th ed., William Tegg, 1862, quote from foreword.
55. R. Anlezark, A Commercial Ready Reckoner on an entirely new system etc., Palmer & Howe, 1871.
56. The World's Ready Reckoner and Rapid Calculator, Laird and Lee, 1911, p. 254.
57. Pitman's Office Desk Book and Ready Reckoner, Isaac Pitman and Sons, 1934.
58. D. Fenning, The Ready Reckoner, or Trader's Most Useful Assistant, quote from the introduction.
59. D. Fenning, The Ready Reckoner, or Trader's Most Useful Assistant, 1788, Crowder, title page.
60. S. Simpson and E. Wise, The Readiest Reckoner Ever Invented, Sharpe and Hailes, 1811, quote from preface.
61. S. Simpson and E. Wise, The Readiest Reckoner Ever Invented, 13th ed., William Tegg, 1862, quote from preface. Rooks checked the original calculations: a common practice and perhaps good marketing.
62. D. Neave, Moulders' Ready Reckoner, Aberdeen Univ. Press, ca. 1880, p. 5 of preface; author Williams' copy.
63. Advertisement for C.H. Dowling, A Series of Metric Tables, Crosby Lockwood and Co., 1886. Advertisements are in the unnumbered pages at the back of Chadwick.
64. Shorthose, Commercial Ready Reckoner, 10th ed., George Allen & Unwin, 1921.
65. D. Swade, "The 'Unerring Certainty of Mechanical Agency': Machines and Table Making in the Nineteenth Century," History of Mathematical Tables, M. Campbell-Kelly, ed., Oxford Univ. Press, 2003, p. 152.
66. G. Brown and C. O'Brien, The Rich Man's Ready Reckoner, Wolfe Publishing, 1970, preface.
67. "Financial compound interest and annuity tables. Fifth edition. (Second printing.) Computed by Financial Publishing Company under editorial supervision of Charles H. Gushee. Financial Publishing Co. Boston, Mass. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul." Gushee is a book of tables (undated). Quote is from title page to show that it was produced by computer.
68. H. Perrin, Nuttall's Metric Conversion Tables, Warne, 1973.
69. D. Swade, "The 'Unerring Certainty of Mechanical Agency': Machines and Table Making in the Nineteenth Century," pp. 147-149.
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71. Brendon and Son Ltd. to Routledge, 19 Feb. 1926, Routledge Archive, Univ. College, London.
72. J. Whitaker, Reference Catalogue of Current Literature, J. Whitaker & Sons, dates covered: 1874-2003.
73. Cumulative Book Index, H.W. Wilson, dates covered: 1912-1999.
74. W. Chadwick, Combined Number and Weight Calculator, Crosby Lockwood and Co., 1886.
75. Model Ready Reckoner, Warne, Frederick, and Co., 1888.
76. B.O.B. Williams, "Ready Reckoners and Tabular Calculators," Proc. 9th Int'l Meeting of Slide Rule Collectors, Dutch Slide Rule Collectors Circle, Amsterdam, 2003.
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