When I first saw it on the shelf at our local Savers I had no idea what it did but I was intrigued. There was just something about it that looked familiar. So here’s some history: The Addiator, it turns out, is a mechanical calculator that ‘performs’ addition and subtraction. Once made by Addiator Gesellschaft of Berlin, variants of this design were manufactured from 1920 until 1982, until they were made obsolete by handheld electronic calculators. Even more amazing is this mechanical calculator design was first introduced by Troncet, a Frenchman, way back in 1889.
Are you as freaked out as I am? No? Then let’s go over a few things to illustrate all the strange, unexpected analogues this thing has to our modern-day smartphones.
Creepiness #1: First of all, see that thing clipped to the right side? That’s right. This thing comes with a stylus (19th century models called it a “peg”). The user sticks the stylus into the space beside a number and pushes up or down to ‘enter’ the number. Right away that’s a little spooky. Who in his right mind would think to create a device that required a stylus to interact with a set of numbers except for maybe some dude from the future who travelled back in time and tried to model a calculator after an iPad but lacked the technical know-how and the materials to build one in 1920’s Berlin!
Addiator: basic math tool or evidence for the existence of time travel?
Creepiness #2: There’s a reset button. Guess where it is? It’s that metal bar at the top. But you don’t press it. Instead, you grasp it and then pull down the Addiator. Just like you do on your smartphone when you want to refresh the data!! More evidence this thing is the workings of a time traveller.
Creepiness #3: Take a look at that logo on the bottom of the thing. Quick. What does it totally remind you of? Right. A QR Code! Only thing is the QR code wasn’t invented until 1994. Look closer and you’ll see it’s actually not a QR Code at all but rather a picture of 3 figures holding up the number 010. Which is also weird. Because when it comes to basic addition or subtraction, who’s thinking about zeroes and ones? Nobody! You don’t need a calculator to add zeroes and ones. But you know what does come in zeroes and ones? That’s right. The binary code used by our computers and smartphones! So why would it say “010” if it hadn’t been created by time travelers or aliens?
You tell me. I’m too creeped out to continue!
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