Felix Arithmometer

Serial No. ∏61871

Date: 1920-1970

Capacity: 9x8x13

Price paid: £10

This machine was made in the Soviet Union. Compared with ‘Western’ machines, the machine is rather crudely made.  It lacks some of the refinements of most other machines – in particular, it lacks the mechanism which ensures that complete turns of the crank are made.  However, this shouldn’t be an issue in the hands of a competent operator.

It is difficult to date these machines because there isn’t much information available, and machines stayed in production for decades without significant changes.  For example, butterflies were still used to reset the registers until the end of production in the early 1970s, whereas most other manufacturers had replaced the butterflies with conventional cranks before 1930.  This said, I suspect this is a fairly late example of its type.

The machine, such as it is, works well.  I also believe it was originally painted turquoise, judging by what can be seen when the cover is removed.

The “Felix” is Felix Dzerzhinsky, who founded the Soviet secret police force (precursor to the KGB) in 1917.  He was also responsible for starting mechanical calculator production in Soviet Russia in the vacuum left following the departure of the Odhner company to Sweden. His nickname “Iron Felix” came to be applied both to the man and to his calculators.


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