Since 1910: A Brief History of Marchant Calculators



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The first place of business of the Marchant
Brothers, founders of Marchant Calculators.



1910 - America's first calculator, the "Standard."




The Beginning

The beginning of the Marchant story is also the beginning of the history of the calculating machine industry in the United States. America’s first mechanical calculator made for commercial use bore the Marchant name.

A crude, wallpapered back room of a small store in downtown Oakland, California, was the birthplace of the first American-made calculating machine. The first Marchant was produced in painfully laborious fashion by hand and with the aid of simple machinery.

This was the brain child and handiwork of Rodney and Alfred Marchant, businessman and mechanical mind respectively, who were associated in a partnership with two other brothers, Gordon, who operated the foundry, and Cyril, who was the traveling salesman.

The First Marchant

Their first Model, called the “Standard,” was a lever-set, hand-operated calculator. It was cranked like a coffee grinder, and it sounded like one, but it turned out the answers for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division accurately and efficiently…although slowly by today’s standards.

During the first two or three years, production in the small shop was necessarily slow and limited. As each machine was finished one of the brothers would tuck it under his arm and start ringing door bells.

Mechanized figuring proved to have a strong appeal to businessmen. The ready sale of the machines encouraged the Marchant brothers to incorporate in 1913. A new name for the business, Marchant Calculating Machine Company was adopted.

Faith in the product was rewarded by constantly mounting sales. Word about the utility of the Marchant calculators was spreading throughout the country. Selling trips by company principals and representatives place Marchants in use in most parts of the nation.