Jaap's Mechanical Calculators Page

Dial-A-Matic / The see "calculator"

Sterling Dial-A-Matic SEE Calculator


Sterling Dial-A-Matic
The see "calculator"
Video
Newspaper and Magazine Advertisements
Patents
Links


Sterling Dial-A-Matic

The Dial-A-Matic is 4-dial adder made by Sterling Plastics Co., based in Union, New Jersey. Sterling mostly made school and office equipment such as protractors, slide rules, pencil cases, and filing card boxes.

The Dial-A-Matic is made of cream-coloured plastic and comes with a plastic stylus of the same colour. Like the Kes-Add, the dials can be moved in both directions, and in either case the carry operations also work as they should. The stylus should have a longer thin tip, but this easily breaks off making it fairly useless.

Sterling Dial-A-Matic
Sterling Dial-A-Matic
Sterling Dial-A-Matic


They were usually packaged in a cardboard box, as shown here, though blister packaging was used in later years.

Sterling Dial-A-Matic
Sterling Dial-A-Matic
Sterling Dial-A-Matic
Sterling Dial-A-Matic


The carry is transferred through an intermediate wheel. There is a mechanism that prevents a wheel from overshooting when it receives a carry - the lever above the driven wheel gets pushed up, and the other end comes down and halts the rotation of the wheel that recieved the carry.
It was designed by Otto Lehre at Sterling Plastics Co. in about 1954.

Sterling Dial-A-Matic


It seems to have been in production for 15 years, until about 1970. Sterling made a few variations: model 565 is the standard 4-dial version, model 566 a 4-dial version built into the lid of a pencil box, model 567 a 5-dial version, and lastly model 568 is a 6-dial version with clearing mechanism. The 5 and 6-dial versions had an angled base for use on a desk. A toy 3-dial version was also made in later years, but I don't know its model number.

Some versions were made for other companies, usually for advertising. There is for example a "Dial-a-Chevy" version for Chevrolet. The IBM Hexadecimal adder is a 4-dial version where each dial is marked with the 16 hexcadecimal digits 0-9 and A-F.

The see "calculator"

This is a version of the Sterling Dial-A-Matic in which the outer case was made from transparent plastic, making the mechanism fully visible. It was made in 1968 for selective educational equipment inc., hence the name see. This company was based in Newton, Massachusetts, and supplied all kinds of equipment and books for use in school lessons. This must have been made by Sterling, because on the back it has the same raised lettering stating the Sterling model number and listing the patent numbers that the normal Dial-A-Matic has. The front carries the same instructions.

SEE Calculator
SEE Calculator
SEE Calculator
SEE Calculator
SEE Calculator


In 1982 the transparent Dial-A-Matic was reissued by the Burt Harrison & Co. of Weston, Mass. with the name Pascal-type Calculator.


Video

Below is a video I made that demonstrates the Dial-A-Matic and the SEE calculator.




Newspaper and Magazine Advertisements

Here are some of the advertisements I found in online archives.

1957-10-16 Daily Kent Stater
1958 Eatons Catalogue
1959 Office supplies catalog - JP Roberts Co
1963-10-31 Winchester Star

Here is the trademark registration of "DIAL-A-MATIC", filed 4 January 1955, from the USPTO's official gazette.

1955-11-08 Official Gazette


Patents

PatentFiling datePublished dateNameDescription
US 2,797,04730-04-195425-06-1957Otto Lehre (Sterling Plastics Co.)Dial-A-Matic
See also: CA 556,754, GB 773,099.

Links

Rechnerlexikon has pages for the Dial-A-Matic, the SEE Calculator, and the IBM Hexadecimal Adder.
Detlev Bölter shows all Dial-A-Matic variations.
Rechenwerkzeug shows the SEE calculator.
The Sliderule Museum has a page of Sterling slide rules and adders.
John Wolff has a pencil case Add-o-matic.
New Beginning Antiques has a bit more background information on the IBM Hexadecimal Adder.
Flickr has a good photo of a 5-dial Dial-a-matic.
Telmachines.nl has very nice pictures of various addometers


© Copyright 2019 Jaap Scherphuis, .