Fuller's Time Telegraph and Palmer's Computing Scale [ Full Size ]. John E. Fuller, Aaron Palmer.
Fuller's Time Telegraph and Palmer's Computing Scale [ Full Size ]

Fuller's Time Telegraph and Palmer's Computing Scale [ Full Size ]

Massachusetts: John E. Fuller [ 1845-1846 ]. A rare circular slide rule. 11 1/16 inches by 11 1/16 inches by almost 5/16 inches thick. Constructed of three layers of book board, the center board intact, the outer two boards with circular volvelle cutouts, the whole connected with a center metal rivet and decorative gilded leather affixed around the assemblage edges. Each side is covered with a lithographed sheet, with a circular cutout for the inside and outside of the volvelle scales.

The top board, containing the volvelle “Palmer's Computing Scale” notes it was engraved by George G. Smith, 186 Washington St, Boston. It also has a deposit (Entered according to Act of Congress) notice dated 1843 by Aaron Palmer in the Clerk's office of the District Court State of Massachusetts. This volvelle has the original recessed metal ¾ inch finger disk used to move the rule.

The rear board contains “Fuller's Time Telegraph” with a deposit notice of 1845, by John E. Fuller, in the State of Massachusetts. Also “Eng'd by GG Smith, Boston”. There is also a previous owner name “L Derr” inked in the center. This side also has the original ¾ inch finger disk for movement.

Both volvelles rotate as they should, but the Palmer side is curled outward from the flat plane, a common failing with these devices. Uniform darkening/soiling to both sides, some minor loss to the decorative leather mostly at corners. Lacking the often missing cloth portfolio cover and instructions. Very Good. Boards. [23776]

Palmer's Computing Scale is one of the most desirable artifacts for those who collect early American Slide Rules and calculating devices. It was designed by Mr. Aaron Palmer and Mr. George G Smith in early 1841. A prototype was shown in early 1842, and later in Boston in the fall of 1843 - the First American Sliderule.

Feazel notes that the rule's first commercial appearance was in January 1844. The first version of the circular rule had a front volvelle, and instructions printed on the rear. Mr. John E. Fuller purchased the copyrights to the device from Palmer, and in 1845 copyrighted the Time Telegraph. This second volvelle or circular rule device was affixed to the rear of Palmer's Computing Scale, and "how to" instructions were provided in a separate cloth case with foldout and instructions (now rarely found).

This second incarnation, with the addition of the Time Telegraph, is one of the first times that a device, rather than a person, is referred to as a "computer". Previously, people who sat at their desks and performed computing operations were called computers. This device, proudly noted by Fuller in his full sized instruction book, is called a "TELEGRAPHIC COMPUTER" (here missing).

There were various versions of this device produced from 1845 to 1871. Our example was published in 1845/46 (further differentiation of the date is impossible without the instruction book). This example has the Palmer slide rule showing a copyright of 1843, and the Fuller side copyright 1845. See Origins of Cyberspace #302 and Journal of the Oughtred Society Vol 3 No 1 and Vol 4 no 1 for more information.


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