The foundation „German Watch Museum Glashütte – Nicolas G. Hayek” and the Arithmeum of the Rhenish Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn present, in their jointly curated exhibition, the history of mechanical calculating machines in Glashütte.
In 1623, the Tübingen professor Wilhelm Schickard built the first mechanical calculating machine. Only 50 years later the polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz succeeded in building a calculating machine that could perform all four basic arithmetic operations. In 1820, the insurance salesman Charles Xavier Thomas received the patent for his Arithmometer. It was a stepped drum machine, which based on the invention by Leibniz. This construction provided the basis for a serial production. One of the first German production centers of industrially produced calculating machines started in Glashütte from 1876 on.
The innovation and flexibility of the companies in Glashütte was evident in the manufacturing of precision timepieces, but also in the production of mechanical calculating machines. About 140 years ago, the engineer Curt Dietzschold developed a calculating machine with switching ratchets for the mechanical storage of numbers. Hence, he established the basis for siginifacant development of calculating machines in Glashütte. His college friend Arthur Burkhard focused on the stepped drum principle according to Thomas and developed the “Burkhardt-Arithometer” which was successful at many trade fairs. In 1904 Reinhold Pöthig, one of Burkhardt’s students, began producing his own calculating machines with the significant name “Archimedes”. About 85,000 calculating machines in 42 different model variations were manufactured under this brand. After the era of mechanical calculating machines came to an end in the 1960s, the development and production of electronic analog computers continued in Glashütte for a number of years.
The historical exhibition in the Watch Museum provides enlightening context and presents the function and the development of the mechanical calculating machines in a multimedia and interactive way. Apart from historical documents, photographs and exhibits, visitors may enjoy the opportunity to try their hand at the art of mechanical calculation
The special exhibition in the German Watch Museum Glashütte is open daily from from 10 am to 5 pm from June 9 to November 12, 2017.
An exhibition catalogue is available in the museum and the online shop.