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Chicago. Purchasing order for a calculator for Henry Schultz. 1928.

Here is an item to file away under the cost of computing. Henry Schultz, the young hot-shot professor for mathematical economics and statistics wanted a fully-automatic Monroe calculator with an electric motor drive (pictured above). With discounts, the calculator and stand cost $631.  To get a relative price (in a hurry), I note that the nine month salary for Henry C. Simons at the rank of Lecturer was $2790, i.e. $310 per month. Thus figure that calculator-with-stand ran roughly two months of (approximately) instructor rank pay today.

Recommendation to appoint Henry C. Simons May 20, 1927: University of Chicago Archives. Office of the President, Mason Administration. Box 24, Folder 2.

Cf. a request to purchase two calculators for the use of the Columbia University economics faculty in 1948.


[carbon copy]

January 8, 1928


Mr. J. C. Dinsmore [Purchasing Agent]
Faculty Exchange

My dear Mr. Dinsmore:

I am enclosing a requisition against the instruction fund of the Department of Economics for $652.13 [sic] which is to cover the purchase of the following material:

1 Monroe Machine – KAA 203…$825.00

less 15% and 10%…….$631.13

1 Fowler Manson Sherman Stand (low)… 21.00

Total                                       $651.13


Professor Henry Schultz is anxious to have these articles delivered as promptly as possible. Will you please telephone me when they arrive so that I can tell you to what room they should be delivered.

So that there will be no delay in the attached requisition being approved promptly, I quote a paragraph taken from a letter of September 24 from Mr. Woodward to me:

“I have arranged with Mr. Plimpton for you to draw on the instruction budget of the Department of Economics for the sum of $2600 in order to provide Mr. Schultz with equipment, supplies, and clerical assistance. It should be clearly understood that this arrangement is for the present year only.”

Yours very sincerely,

L. C. Marshall [chairman of the department]


Source: University of Chicago Archives. Economics Department. Records & Addenda. Box 6, Folder 2.


About the KAA model:

“Model KA from 1922 was the first Monroe calculator with an electric motor drive. The machine has an AC induction motor of about 5″ diameter mounted externally on a cast-iron bracket at the left-hand rear. The motor occupies the dead area under the extended carriage, and so requires no additional desk space. The motor rotates in one direction only at 1500RPM. The mechanism is driven through a planetary gearset, with two dog clutches operated by the Add and Subtract bars to select forward or reverse rotation. The case has been widened by an inch and a half to accommodate the control mechanisms on the left-hand side. The winding handle has been replaced with a knurled brass knob, but the crank can easily be re-fitted to operate the machine by hand.

The carriage has glass windows above the numerals, but carriage shift and register clearing are still manual. The item count knob is at the lower left of the keyboard, with an additional control lever at the upper left to silence the overflow bell.

…[The] Monroe’s head office, which was in New York City until the mid-1920s.

A fully-automatic variant (the Model KAA) was built during the mid to late 1920s. The KAA is wider again than the KA, and has a single column of “on-the-fly” multiplier keys to the left of the main keyboard.”

Source:  John Wolff’s Web Museum. The Monroe Calculating Machine Company

Image Source: KAA-203 photo attributed to contribution by Helmut Siebel. See the link above.


For a history of the company.


An image of a representative typewriter stand made by a Chicago company (note: a bicycle manufacturer) from the antique dealer Urban Remains of Chicago.


Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier