Contina (Curta Type I)

This mechanical calculating machine is one of the first Curta Type I (cf. FDM 4438), the famous machine built by Curt Herzstark. It belongs to the pre-series 001 dating from 1947, has no machine number yet and bears the name Contina (housed in a later Curta box). The first prototype of this cylindrical machine with its centrally aligned stepped drum existed as early as 1938. Some of its further development took place under dire circumstances in the Buchenwald concentration camp, where Curt Herzstark was confined from 1943 to 1945. Upon request of the camp commander he continued his design work which led to three prototypes being built after WW2. In 1946 Herzstark decided to accept an offer from Liechtenstein to establish a factory there and become its technical director. The production of this unrivaled machine began in 1947 and ended in 1970, and was available from 1949 to 1972. The firm‘s name was Contina; the name of the machine was changed to Curta in 1948, reflecting the name of its constructor. It is reported by a former employee of the firm that this particular machine had its place on the director’s desk and since then it was dubbed No.1 of the entire production.