Verea

In 1878 Ramon Verea was granted the US patent No. 207918 titled “Improvement in Calculating Machines“. In this document he describes a multiplying machine based on the multiplication table up to ten, but implemented mechanically in a totally different way from that of Léon Bollée in his construction of 1887. The essential part of the machine, namely the mechanical representation of the 100 numbers in the multiplication table up to ten, has for every place a vertical ten-sided metal cylinder with each of its ten rectangular sides for the multiples of a different digit, e.g. 0x7 to 9x7. For each of these multiples there are two adjacent holes, one for units and the other for tens. Thus, together they form a vertical column of ten pairs of holes. Their diameters differ with the different multiples of the digit. These holes are probed by two adjacent conical pins which thus enter them to differing depths, according to their diameters. It is notable that the products are represented as complementary numbers with respect to 9, e.g. the product 6x7 = 42 becomes 57. Another detail is that the two adjacent holes are in reverse order, e.g. holes 7 and 5 for 57. The different diameters of the holes correspond to the numbers 0 to 9, where there is only a dimple for 0 and the widest is for 9. Turning the crank moves the conical pins up to the cylinders where they enter to the assigned depths. These are then transferred to the result mechanism. The pin entering hole 7 gets moved by 2 units (corresponding to the units-value of the product 42), while the pin entering hole 5 gets moved by 4 units (corresponding to the tens-value of 42). Picture (10) in the patent document shows the plan of holes of all ten sides of a cylinder. The result mechanism, called the “product-box“, can be moved sideways and must be moved by one place after every multiplication.

Not much is known about the Spanish inventor Ramon Verea. He was born on 11. December 1833 and later lived in New York where he died on 6. February 1899.