Jaap's Mechanical Calculators Page

Precisa

Precisa 117 Precisa 160 Precisa 364



Precisa 117
   Video
Precisa 160-12
Precisa 364-12
   Video
History
Models
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Patents
Links

Precisa 117

The Precisa 117 is a mechanical calculator that is clearly inspired by the design of the Facit. Like the Facit, it is a pinwheel machine where it is the input register that is mounted on a moving carriage instead of the main register and counter, and it has a Dalton style 10-key keyboard. The crank is positioned ergonomically at an angle towards the user.

Each of the three registers has a clearing lever. The front lever on the left clears the input register. The paddle below it is just a fixed support so that you can push down the input clearing lever using a squeezing motion. To the rear of the left side is the clearing lever for the main register, and on the right rear is a similar lever for the counter.

There are just 3 control keys. There are two arrow keys which simply shift the input carriage one step to the left or right. The key marked DIV shifts the input carriage all the way to the left, which is handy for division. It also affects the way the counter reacts. A single addition will not be registered, which allows you to enter the dividend, and any subtractions will be counted positively in order to perform the division calculation.

Precisa 117
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This model was in production from 1952 until 1963. The serial number is 151,193 which seems to be early in the production, say about 1953. Later versions have round handles on the clearing levers, a larger Precisa logo, and often are painted silver grey instead of green.

Precisa 117
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Video




Precisa 160-12

The Precisa 160 is an electrically driven adding listing machine. It has a 10-key keyboard, with a few control keys. This is the model 160-12, which means it allows input of 12-digit numbers, and has a 13-digit internal register.

This machine has a two-colour ink ribbon, so that it can print numbers that are subtracted in red. It does not handle negative totals properly however (it prints -1 as 99,999,999,999,99 in black), though it seems that later versions of this same model do (printing 1- in red).

The buttons are as follows:

0-9Digit keys for inputting numbers
00Same as typing 0 twice
000Same as typing 0 three times
CClearClears input without affecting anything else
+AddAdd number to register, print number with a +; clear input
-SubtractSubtract number from register, print number in red with a -; clear input
RRepeatCombine with + or - for repeated addition/subtraction without clearing input
#Non-addPrint number with a #; clear input
SubtotalPrint register with a ⋄ without clearing it
TotalPrint register with a ∗; clear register
Precisa 160
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Precisa 160

The serial number is B913,352. The letter B indicates the machine was made in 1969.

The top part of the case can be lifted up to access the ink ribbon. The hinge is at the back, and the hinge axle can be pulled out to separate the two halves of the case and take out the mechanism.

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Precisa 364-12

The Precisa 364 is an electrically driven adding listing machine. It looks almost identical to model 160 above, except that it has an extra column of control keys and a switch. This is the model 364-12, which means it allows input of 12-digit numbers, and has a 13-digit internal register. The extra keys allow it to perform automatic multiplication.

This machine has a two-colour ink ribbon, so that it can print numbers that are subtracted in red. It handles negative totals correctly, printing the value in red with a minus sign at the end.

The controls are as follows:

0-9Digit keys for inputting numbers
00Same as typing 0 twice
000Same as typing 0 three times
CClearClears input without affecting anything else
+AddAdd number to register, print number with a +; clear input
-SubtractSubtract number from register, print number in red with a -; clear input
×MultiplySet first factor of a multiplication without affecting register; clear input. The × key is blocked if a first factor has already been set.
RRepeatCombine with + or - for repeated addition/subtraction without clearing input. Combine with × to set first factor without clearing input. The R key is blocked if a first factor has been set.
#Non-addPrint number with a #; clear input
SubtotalPrint register with a ⋄ without clearing it; clear input; does not clear first factor
TotalPrint register with a ∗; clear register; clear input; does not clear first factor if present. When combined with $times;, total is set as first factor.
|Neg. Mult.This switch sets that the product is to be subtracted
Sub-Mult.Print second factor with a =; multiply by first factor and add/subtract to register; clear first factor; clear input; print register with a ⋄ without clearing it. The key is blocked if no first factor was set or if the two factors together have more than 12 digits.
End Mult.Print second factor with a =; multiply by first factor and add/subtract to register; clear first factor; clear input; print register with a ∗; clear register. The key is blocked if no first factor was set or if the two factors together have more than 12 digits.
Precisa 364
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The serial number is D130,901. The letter D indicates the machine was made in 1971.

The top part of the case can be lifted up to access the ink ribbon. There is also a jumper with which you can select which mains voltage is used (110-160V or 180-250V). The hinge is at the back, and the hinge axle can be pulled out to separate the two halves of the case and then take out the mechanism.

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Video




History

Ernst Jost founded the company Ernst Jost AG in Z├╝rich, Switzerland, in 1916. He sold office machinery, including calculators such as Brunsviga and Rheinmetall. In around 1930 he must have decided that there was a market for a new adding-listing machine, and he enlisted the help of some engineers to make that happen, including Erwin Jahnz who had designed the first MADAS machines. In 1935 they founded the Precisa company in order to manufacture the prototype they had made. Jost's office machine company was bought by Theo Muggli (see Direct). In 1942 the production was moved to Zürich - Oerlikon.

Precisa made many improvements to their adding machine, and made many other variants of it over the years. They only ever made one non-printing calculator, which was the model 117 shown above.

In 1964 Precisa merged with Hermes, a company that mostly made typewriters, and became Hermes-Precisa International. The calculators continued to be marketed using the Precisa brand name, though in some territories they were rebadged as Hermes. The mechanical calculator market collapsed with the arrival of electronic calculators, but the company managed to continue making mechanical calculators and typewriters until 1978 when it was bought by Olivetti.

It should be noted that Hermes-Precisa had also begun diversifying, by manufacturing precision scales and other measuring equipment. This part of the company seems to have been split off as an independent entity when Olivetti bought the rest, and it still continues today as Precisa Gravimetrics.

Models

The first Precisa adding machine was the model M 1 from 1935. It was able to handle negative totals. In about 1944 it was replaced by three new models, the M 2, M 3, and M4. The M 2 was a redesign of the M 1, while the M 3 was a cheaper version of the M 1 with a smaller capacity. The M 4 was like the M 1 but provided new functionality in the form of an extra register allowing for subtotals and totals.

The model designations then become incredibly confusing. It seems that the M models were renamed, and many variants were introduced including of course electrically powered ones. When the casing was restyled in around 1957, the same model numbers were sometimes used. In the table below I have listed only some of the many models, grouped into visually similar types. All the information is based on Rechner lexikon, combined with a fair amount of guesswork.

NameYearsCapacityNotes
Precisa M 11935-194410×11
Precisa M 21944-1948?10×11
Precisa M 31944-1948?7×8
Precisa M 41944-1948?10×(11+11)
Precisa 1021949?-195610×11Similar to M 2.
Precisa 1031949?-19577×8Same as M 3.
Precisa 1041949?-195710×(11+11)Same as M 4.
Precisa 1061950?-195610×11Same as M 2.
Precisa 1101949?-195610×11Electric.
There was often an extra digit appended to the model number, e.g. 102-1 or 1021, where the digit specifies the specific variant. For example, 1 and 2 variants have paper rolls, while 4 means it has a typewriter-style wide paper carriage, and 5 a wide split carriage handling both a paper roll and sheets.
Precisa 1171952-19639×8×13Pinwheel calculator. Non-printing.
Precisa 1031957-19627×8Restyled version.
Precisa 1061957-196210×11Restyled version.
Precisa 1101957-196210×11Restyled version. Electric.
Precisa 1821957-196312×(13+13)Electric.
Precisa 1761957-196312×(13+13)Electric. Multiplication.
Precisa 1701957-196317×(17+17)Electric. Multiplication and division.
Precisa 1081961-19788×9 or 10×11Manual.
Precisa 2081961-19788×9 or 10×11Electric.
Precisa 3081969-197810×5×11Electric. Multiplication.
Precisa 1601961-19758×9 or 12×13Electric.
Precisa 1621963-197512×13Electric. Storage register.
Precisa 3641963-197812×13Electric. Multiplication.
Precisa 1641963-197812×13Electric. Multiplication. Storage register
Precisa 1661966-197812×13Electric. Multiplication and division.

Advertisements

Here are a few adverts found mostly in various newspapers and magazines.

1948-11-19 The Dispatch (Moline Illinois)
1948-12 Office Appliances
1950-12 Office Appliances
1951-01-19 Der Bund (Switzerland)
1951-04-08 Der Bund (Switzerland)
1952-01-15 Visalia Times Delta (California)
1952-06 The Office
1952-09-10 Die Tat (Switzerland)
1952-09-18 Lubbock Morning Avalanche (Texas)
1953-02-05 Die Tat (Switzerland)
1953-04 The Office
1953-04-11 Der Bund (Switzerland)
1953-06 The Office
1953-08 Administrative Management
1954-01-24 Die Tat (Switzerland)
1954-08 Administrative Management
1954-10-27 Die Tat (Switzerland)
1955-01-02 Die Tat (Switzerland)
1957-05-01 Der Bund (Switzerland)
1958-06-02 Die Tat (Switzerland)
1958-07-17 Birmingham Daily Post (UK)
1963-10-15 The Gazette (Montreal Quebec Canada)
1967-09-11 The Montreal Star (Quebec Canada)
1967-11-22 The Gazette (Montreal Quebec Canada)
1968-11-21 The Age (Melbourne Victoria Australia)
1968-11-21 The Sydney Morning Herald (New South Wales Australia)
1969-11 International Business Equipment
1970-05 Business South Africa
1970-08-11 The Guardian (UK)
1970-10-21 The Guardian (UK)
1971-06-23 The Gazette (Montreal Quebec Canada)
1971-07-06 The Gazette (Montreal Quebec)
1975-03-27 Algemeen Dagblad (Netherlands)
1976-03-04 The Gazette (Montreal Quebec Canada)
1976-09 International Business Equipment


Patents

Erwin Jahnz and Precisa filed very many patents on all aspects of the mechanisms of the machines. Below is a small selection of them.

PatentFiling datePublish dateNameDescription
CH 146,29915-04-193016-06-1931Erwin JahnzReversing gear
CH 184,04407-10-194202-09-1946Eugen BenningerPegboard for input storage
See also: US 2,062,963
CH 286,90415-11-195202-03-1953Precisa A.G.Input lock (model 117)
See also: BE 506,601, DE 928,430
CH 289,42015-03-195101-07-1953Precisa A.G.Division key lock (model 117)
CH 300,65206-02-195216-10-1954Precisa A.G.Calculator (model 117)
BE 509,80408-03-195231-03-1952Precisa S.A.Input lock (model 117)
CH 309,57811-02-195316-11-1955Precisa A.G.Soundproofing for keyboard
DE 1,091,78209-02-195427-10-1960Precisa A.G.Division setting (model 117)
See also: SE 181,163
CH 345,18311-06-195629-04-1960Precisa A.G.Automatic division
CH 379,80806-07-196015-07-1964Precisa A.G.10-key input (model 160)
See also: DE 1,215,407, SE 187,907, US 3,114,502
CH 380,41506-07-196031-07-1964Precisa A.G.10-key input (model 160)
See also: US 3,147,919
CH 392,94105-04-196231-05-1965Precisa A.G.Printing mechanism (model 160)
See also: DE 1,449,510, FR 1,355,921, US 3,221,644, US 3,262,385
CH 406,68412-06-196331-01-1966Precisa A.G.Multiplication limiter (model 164)
See also: US 3,312,391
CH 412,41212-06-196330-04-1966Precisa A.G.Multiplication mechanism (model 164)
See also: US 3,268,165

Links

Precisa has a page about the history of the Precisa company..
Rechner Lexicon has a page about Precisa, which has links to pages for specific models, including the Precisa 117, Precisa 160, and Precisa 364 (and Manual). There is also an in-depth Precisa 117 article by Peter Haertel.
Rechenmaschinen-Illustrated has pictures of various Precisa calculators including the 117, 160, and 364.
John Wolff has page of later Precisa adding machines.
John Scriven's collection has a page about the Precisa 117.
GrumpyTim's YouTube Channel has a video about the Precisa 160 which includes an in depth explanation of the mechanism.


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