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Extracts from "Comptometer News", October 1929

Comptometer News cover

"Comptometer News" was a regular magazine for staff and students of the Comptometer training schools. It was published by Felt & Tarrant in Chicago, beginning in 1926, and was distributed to more than 150 schools and training centres around the world.

The magazine consisted primarly of news and photographs from around the branches - comings and goings, local gossip, training results, and placements to industry - but also included personal and professional advice from the management and calculating hints from the technical department. The articles clearly show the importance that Felt & Tarrant placed on the operators, training schools, and placement services as essential and integral parts of the Comptometer business.

"Comptometer News" Vol III No 4 was produced in October 1929. It has 32 pages, 6" x 9", on coated paper with a full-colour cover.

The extracts below show something of the spirit of the times.


Peoples Gas Light Co Bureau Chicago, Illinois

A view of part of the Central Computing Bureau at the Peoples Gas Light & Coke Co. in Chicago in 1929.

An installation of multiple machines was usually called a Comptometer "battery". Note the "ergonomic" desks with recessed keyboards, and the Comptometer covers neatly placed on the floor beside.

The Peoples Gas Light Company, previously known as the Equitable Gas Light & Fuel Co., was the first organisation to purchase a Comptometer from Felt's original batch of eight machines in 1887. The machine was accompanied by one of the first group of trained operators, a Mr. Geo. Martin, who soon obtained permanent employment with the company. The machine and its operator were both highly regarded. (Ref Turck 1921).


Ms Lu Amrine Columbus, Ohio

Following Mr Geo. Martin's success at the gas company in 1887, it became a common marketing practice for salesmen to place a machine "on trial" in an organisation, along with a trained operator supplied from the associated school. The operators chosen carried a major responsibility, which usually led to successful sales and offers of permanent employment.


Operators from Omaha Omaha, Nebraska

Students in all of the schools were encouraged to compete for entry onto the Honor Roll and the award of a Comptometer ring. The test was to see how many columns from the Adding Book that they could complete accurately in an hour. Their achievements were noted in the magazine. Diplomas were awarded on completion of the final examinations.


Sydney Comptometer Graduates Ball Sydney, Australia

Completion of the final examinations was often celebrated in grand style. This view shows some of the guests at the Comptometer Graduates Ball, held in Sydney, Australia, on 20th June 1929.

"Evidently all work and no play has no place in the lives of southern seas' operators. Neither is the reverse, all play and no work, true of our Australian cousins, as we have good reason to know from the excellent reports that come to us concerning their schools and Comptometer business."


Southern Railway, Atlanta Atlanta, Georgia

"Nearly a quarter of a century ago (June 5, 1905) the Southern Railway System purchased its first Comptometer. In the Freight Accounting Department, at Atlanta, there are now 57 Comptometers in use. Of these, 45 are included in the Comptometer Division pictured below. In the General Accounting branches and at principal Freight Terminals on the line, there are several hundred Comptometers employed on various classes of work, such as:
  Adding Interline Abstracts
  Pro-rating Interline Abstracts
  Verification of Interline Abstracts
  Calculating and verifying Revenue and Proportions on Local and Interline Waybills
  Various Statistical and othe Freight Accounting Work."

St. Louis, Missouri

A New Development in the Comptometer Operating Profession

The St Louis office has had so many requests in the past year for competent supervisors for Comptometer bureaus that it has decided to extend the present course to one that we will call "Post Graduate Instructions."

This higher study course will be open to those who are able to meet the requirements and are willing to put forth the necessary study and energy to complete it.

We have felt the need of this department for a long time, and now we must go through with it. Big centralized batteries of Comptometers are being organized faster than we can supply the necessary supervisors.

There is no charge for this course, and we will be glad to talk with any of the girls who feel they can qualify.


1929 Fashion Fashions for 1929

"All the most important tendencies of the new mode cleverly modified for conservative taste, are illustrated in this charming street frock.

It is fashioned of wool crepe, one of the season's important fabrics. The belt is worn just above rather than just below the hipbone. The skirt has well distributed low-placed fullness and reaches four inches below the knee. The lingerie touch of pique is characteristic of this Fall's mode."

The acknowledgement "Courtesy of Macy's New York" suggests that this is not so much an advertisement as an attempt to broaden the students' horizons and raise the standards of the profession. The facing page has some rather more down-to-earth hints on health and deportment from the Syracuse Department of Health.


Mrs William Selby Engagements, weddings, babies...

The proximity of the young ladies in the Comptometer schools and service bureaus to the sales and technical staff in the offices ensured there was always plenty of romantic interest, with the usual consequences:


Original text and images Copyright © John Wolff 2007-17.
Last Updated: 11 July 2017

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