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Precisa Calculators


The Precisa company was established in Zurich in 1935, and built an extensive range of printing calculators from 1943 until the late 1970s. The company merged with the Hermes typewriter company in 1964 to become Hermes-Precisa International. Machines from this period were sold under both Hermes and Precisa brands, differing only in the case styles and colour schemes. The machines found in Australia generally date from the time of the decimal currency conversion in 1966.

Precisa diversified into weighing machines during the 1970s, but the mechanical calculator business was not finally closed until 1978. The Hermes operation disappeared when it was acquired by Olivetti, also in the late 1970s.

The Precisa company is still in business in Zurich making precision laboratory balances and computerised weighing equipment.

Ten-key machines

Precisa Model 160-12 Precisa Model 160-12, S/N 495096
Electric, 12/13 columns, decimal.
Dimensions: 235W x 270D x 160H
Weight: 7.1kg
Manufactured: Precisa Rechenmaschinenfabrik, Zurich, Switzerland, 1961-75

This Precisa Model 160 is a compact and very well-built adding and listing machine from the early 1960s. It provides the basic adding machine functions (add, subtract, total, sub-total, non-add, and repeat), and has a powered clearing key. There is no credit balance mechanism, so the machine prints complements for negative totals.

The machine is housed in a very clever two-part die-cast casing which is painted in three colours and has no screws. The blue section is hinged at the bottom rear, and normally opens a short distance to give access to the printer ribbon. Withdrawing the hinge rod allows the blue cover to be removed completely, so that the rubber-mounted mechanism can be drawn out through the rear.

Precisa Model 164-12 Precisa Model 164-12, S/N A831456
Electric, 12/13 columns, decimal.
Dimensions: 235W x 270D x 160H
Weight: 8.3kg
Manufactured: Precisa Rechenmaschinenfabrik, Zurich, Switzerland, 1961-75

The Precisa Model 164 is a more complex machine which includes fully-automatic short-cut multiplication, back-transfer, a single memory register, and a credit-balance mechanism for true negative totals. The memory register can be used for accumulation functions, storage of constants, or short-term storage of intermediate results. The memory and multiplier functions are controlled by an additional column of four keys and two control levers at the right-hand side of the keyboard.

The machine uses the same basic mechanism as the Model 160 above, and is housed in the same die-cast casing.

Hermes-Precisa Model 167-12 Hermes-Precisa Model 167-12, S/N A865056
Electric, 12/13 columns, decimal
Dimensions: 260W x 310D x 175H
Weight: 9.3kg
Manufactured: Precisa AG, Zurich, 1964-75

This fully-automatic Hermes calculator is identified on the rear panel as a Precisa Model 167. It is essentially the same as the Model 164 above, with the addition of a fully-automatic division mechanism. The division functions are controlled by three additional keys at the left of the keyboard, below the clearing key. The machine is housed in a more conventional 3-part plastic casing finished in the Hermes green.

The Precisa 167 has a particularly clear and simple keyboard layout, with only 14 function keys and 2 control levers. The keyboard has separate total and sub-total keys for add/subtract, multiply, and divide, a division stop key, and a memory key (variously labelled M in English or S in German). One of the control levers locks the memory key to prevent automatic clearing of the contents, and the other selects negative multiplication. Both levers are located next to the keys that they modify, and operate in a consistent direction.

Similar fully-automatic machines from other manufacturers are shown on the "Full-function ten-key calculators" page.
Keyboard detail (31kb)

Precisa Model 208-10 Precisa Model 208-10, S/N DB 7804
Electric, 10/11 columns, decimal.
Dimensions: 195W x 310D x 150H
Weight: 5.4kg
Manufactured: Hermes-Precisa Buromaschinenfabrik GmbH, Sackingen, West Germany, 1968.

The Precisa Model 208 is a basic office adding machine labelled as coming from the Hermes factory in Germany. The machine illustrated is dated September 1968 on the motor capacitor. This machine includes a credit-balance mechanism to print true values for negative totals, but has only a manually-operated clearing control.

Resources for further information


Original text and images Copyright © John Wolff 2002-14.
Last Updated: 12 January 2014

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