Historical Timeline
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Historical Timeline of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company (1857-1962)

The following is a chronology of events.

1857

William Seward Burroughs was born.

1885

The first workable adding and listing machine is built and patented in St. Lewis, Missouri, by William Seward Burroughs.

W. S. Burroughs files first patent application.

1886

The American Arithmometer Company is formed on January 20. 

The sales of the first adding and listing machine of the American Arithmometer Company began at a price of $475 each.

Thomas Metcalfe was elected the first president of the American Arithmometer Company.

1890

First machines demonstrated in banks in New York and St. Lewis.

W. S. Burroughs sails to England with a new model developed to tabulate English currency in an effort to attract investors.

1891

Charles E. Barney becomes the second president of the American Arithmometer Company.

First advertisement - The Burroughs Registering Accountant.

1895

Total sales for 1895 were 284 machines.

First dividend is paid to stockholders.

1898

William Seward Burroughs dies at Citronelle, Alabama.

1900

Total sales for 1900 were 972 machines.

Won gold medal at the Paris Exposition.

1902

Joseph Boyer became the third and last president of the American Arithmometer Company.

1903

Joseph Boyer secretly enters into an agreement to acquire the Addograph Manufacturing Company, whose director is Hubert Hopkins. The name Hopkins later becomes famous for the Moon–Hopkins machine.  James Dalton, president of the Addograph Company, formed the Adding Typewriter Company that same year. It was later called the Dalton Adding Machine Company.

1904

The Company moves to Detroit from St. Louis with all employees in one day on a special train called the "Clover Leaf Express."

1905

The Company is renamed the Burroughs Adding Machine Company.

Total sales for 1905 was 7,804 machines.

Employment rises to 1,200.

1906

Joseph Boyer attempts to acquire the Adder Machine Company

The Ford Motor Company produces a business car equipped with a special rack large enough to carry an adding machine.  The car is known as the “Burroughs Special."

1907

The 50,000th Burroughs machine is manufactured.

1908

Burroughs acquires the Universal Adding Machine Company of Missouri.

1909

Modern Business, an English office journal, says of the Burroughs adding machine it has just purchased, “It brings mechanical skill almost to the point of human intelligence…. it is amazing, but it is true."

Burroughs acquires the Pike Adding Machine Company of New Jersey.

1910

The first “duplex” adding machine, featuring both subtotals and grand totals, is placed on the market.

1911

The first subtracting-adding machine is produced.  It is regarded as a major forward step for bank postings.

The first model of a Burroughs calculator is introduced.  Bearing a striking similarity to the Felt & Tarrant machine, litigation soon followed.

1912

New salesmen receive four weeks of training in the operation and application of Burroughs machines.

1916

Burroughs Clearing House magazine publication begins.

1917

Burroughs Adding Machine Company of Canada, Ltd., in Winsor, Ontario, (20 miles from the Detroit home office) is organized.

1918

Burroughs introduces a deluxe bookkeeping machine priced at $1,150 and equipped with a chain-drive motor return carriage.

Construction begins on a five-floor building adjacent to the main factory in Detroit. This building was later rebuilt to become the World Headquarters for the Burroughs Corporation in 1966.

1920

A total of 800,000 machines have been sold worldwide and employment has reached 12,000.

Standish Backus is elected president, succeeding Joseph Boyer.

1921

Burroughs purchases the Moon-Hopkins Billing Machine Company of Missouri, and the Moon-Hopkins machine is redesigned and improved.  The machine combines an electronic typewriter with a calculating machine.  In the service ranks, the “Moon” as it was called, was a departure from past numeric-only machines.

1924

Burroughs issues stock and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Burroughs establishes major operations in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.

1925

Burroughs introduces the “Burroughs Portable” adding machine, weighing less than 20 lbs. and selling for less than $100.  Two hundred a day are produced in Detroit and 22,000 are sold in the first eight months following release.

Societe Anoyme Burroughs at Brussels, Belgium, is organized.

Burroughs machines are being sold in 60 countries.  Special non-decimal machines are being built and used in a variety of applications: by grocers in Petrograd, Russia, by clerks of the East Bengel Railway in India and the DeBeers diamond mines in Africa, and by Argentine cattle auctioneers.

1926

The one-millionth Burroughs machine is produced at the Detroit Plant.

A new series of Burroughs bookkeeping machines is introduced.  It includes a “duplex subtractor” and “multiple register.”

1927

Burroughs opens the Burroughs Farms as a Detroit-area employee recreation facility near Brighton, Michigan. 

1928

Burroughs introduces the first electric key-actuated calculating machines.

Deutsche Burroughs Rechenmaschinen, A.G. at Berlin, Germany, is organized.

1929

Burroughs establishes major operations in Australia, Austria, Denmark, New Zealand, the Philippine Islands, South Africa, and Switzerland.

1930

Burroughs introduces a new “Passbook Machine” for savings bank bookkeeping.

1931

Burroughs introduces the “Burroughs Standard Typewriter” at national business shows in New York and Chicago.

1933

The first duplex electric calculator is released.

1935

The Burroughs product line now includes 450 standard models.

1938

A major manufacturing facility in Plymouth, Michigan is completed and occupied.

1940

Burroughs begins manufacturing a “service model” portable adding machine in khaki color for the government.  Later production in Army green included a special keyboard with features for dust and spark protection.

1942

Burroughs production of machines, like automobile production, is now restricted to the needs of the Army, Navy, lend-lease program, and war contractors.  Production of the Norden bombsight begins.

1943

Standish Backus resigns as president of the Company because of ill health.  He is succeeded by Alfred J. Doughty.

1944

Burroughs is awarded an Army-Navy “E” for outstanding achievement.

1946

Burroughs efforts are again directed toward the commercial business machine market.  Forty-six new models are introduced in this year.

James S. Coleman succeeds Alfred J. Doughty as president.

1947

The Burroughs “B” trademark is adopted.

1948

The Company’s revenues exceed $100 million and its bookkeeping machines are used by an estimated 14,000 banks.

1949

Burroughs acquires Mittag & Volger and Acme Carbon & Ribbon Company.

Permanent facilities are established for electronic research and development in the Philadelphia area.

1950

The first Sensimatic accounting machine with programmed control panel is released.  It is considered the greatest advance in accounting machines in 25 years.

1951

Burroughs Electronic Accounting Machine, named BEAM, begins development.  It is the first reach toward computer development at Burroughs.

1952

Burroughs builds an electronic memory system for the ENIAC computer. 

1953

The Company’s name is changed from the Burroughs Adding Machine Company to the Burroughs Corporation.

Burroughs delivers UDEC (Unitized Digital Electronic Computer) to the Wayne State University Computation Lab in Detroit. UDEC weighs several tons, contains 10 miles of wire and cable, and uses 3,000 vacuum tubes and 7,000 transistors.

1954

Burroughs new Research Center in Paoli, Pennsylvania, is opened.

Burroughs introduces the E101 desk-size electronic digital computer for scientific engineering and business applications.  The system, which sells for $30,000, includes a magnetic drum memory.   

Burroughs new Sensimatic bank posting machine, embodying a number of automatic features, is introduced.

Burroughs acquires Haydu Brothers of Plainfield, New Jersey, manufacturers of vacuum tubes and other electronic components, to produce special purpose electronic tubes for data display which have resulted from research at the Paoli laboratory.

1955

Burroughs announces the Sensitronic financial accounting machine which reads from and writes on magnetic striped ledger cards and effectively doubles back posting production.

Burroughs receives contracts from the U.S. Air Force and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to build radar data processing equipment for use in SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment), a system designed to protect the continental United States from enemy air attack.

Automatic bank bookkeeping systems are introduced.  These units - an imprinter, a coder, and a sorter - are designed to bring a high degree of automation to check processing.

Burroughs acquires the Todd Company of Rochester, New York, a major supplier of checks, business forms, and check writers and signers.

The Company's total revenues exceed $200 million for the first time, reaching $218.6 million.

1956

Burroughs acquires the ElectroData Corporation of Pasadena, California, a leading producer of computing hardware.

Burroughs is awarded an Air Force contract to develop a transistorized guidance computer to direct the launch of the Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

The Company's Great Valley Laboratories, four miles from the Central Laboratory at Paoli, are opened.

1957

Burroughs develops the Nixie electronic readout tube for electronic display of alphanumeric information. It is to become the industry's most widely used in-line display device.

The Datatron 200 is introduced. The high-speed, large-scale computer rents for $15,000 monthly and has 20 times the productivity capacity of its price competitors.  It has internal magnetic core memory.

Burroughs delivers the first ground guidance computer to the Air Force at Cape Canaveral, Florida, for use in guiding the launch of early Atlas ICBM.  It is the world's first operational transistorized computer.  A later version will guide the launch of every American astronaut to orbit the earth in the Mercury and Gemini programs.

1958

Ray R. Eppert succeeds John S. Coleman as president of the Company after the latter's death.

Burroughs is awarded contracts of more than $37 million to manufacturer additional Atlas missile guidance computers for Air Force space flight and ballistic missile launch sites.

The United States Post Office awards Burroughs a $1.2 million contract for design, development, and production of automatic letter-sorting machines.  Each letter-sorter sorts 43,000 letters per hour.

1959

The U.S. Air Force selects Burroughs as program manager for the ALRI (Airborne Long Range Input) program, a system for extending the SAGE air defense network seaward by placing radar and data processing equipment aboard aircraft.

Burroughs introduces the B 251 visible record computer.  The system reads data from checks and other financial documents, then automatically updates a customer's printer account record in a fraction of a second.

Burroughs Atlas guidance computers sets records for reliability, averaging .988 percent in field operations.

1960

Burroughs digital computers are delivered to the U.S. Navy for use in its Polaris program.  The "stabilization data computers" will provide a high degree of accuracy for navigation systems of nuclear-powered, Polaris-firing submarines.

RVD (Radar Video Digitizer) and RVDP (Radar Video Data Processor) are developed in conjunction with Burroughs-FAA air traffic control study. Both systems change radar signals into digitized impulses that can be fed into a computer as useful data, allowing FAA flight controllers to instantly see approaching aircraft in crowded airport patterns.

1961

Burroughs electronic ground guidance computer successfully guides Atlas, Mercury, and Ranger vehicles into orbit.  Since their installation at Cape Canaveral in 1957, they have never caused mission failure, error, or delay.

Burroughs is named by the U.S. Air Force as hardware contractor for the NORAD Combat Operations Center in Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The Company will design and install a giant computer complex and data display system for split-second evaluation of threats to the North American continent, using input from satellites and radar throughout the world.

The Company announces its B 5000 solid state modular data processing system, which is considered the most advanced business and scientific computer offered by any manufacturer.  Departing from traditional concepts of electronic computer design, the B 5000 is the first computer designed especially for automatic programming or the exclusive use of compiler languages. The B 5000 is later to be regarded as a decade ahead of its time in terms of competitive systems design due to its advanced features including "virtual memory."

Burroughs introduces the B 200 series of small to medium scale solid state computers.

1962

Burroughs is presented President Kennedy's E for Export award for significant contributions to the national export program.

The U.S. Air Force orders 17 D 825 systems for the BUIC (Back-Up Interceptor Control) continental air defense network, a back-up system to SAGE.

A Burroughs guidance computer guides Project Mercury astronauts John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, and Wally Schirra into earth orbit and steers Ranger IV on its successful flight to the moon.