17 June 2008
PALMER, Aaron (19th century). Palmer's Pocket Scale, with Rules for It Use in Solving Arithmetical and Geometrical Problems. Rochester, N.Y.: Aaron Palmer, 1845
8o (143 x 91 mm). Engraved volvelle on heavy card mounted on rear pastedown. (Some foxing to text.) Original brown ribbed cloth, gilt-lettered on front cover (rear joint split).
An early early version of the first circular slide rule published in America (first issued in 1843). Palmer and the engraver George Smith began working on their design for an "endless computing scale" in early 1841. It was copyrighted in Boston in late 1843, and versions of the device continued to be produced until at least 1852. Palmer's slide rule enjoyed only a limited success, largely because of poor marketing and the American public's fear that use of the device "[would] tend to weaken the mind, by causing it to rely upon mere mechanism to make its numbered computations" (Fuller, Key to Fuller's Computing Telegraph , quoted in Feazel 1994, 15). Palmer also published A key to the endless self-computing scale, showing its application to the different rules of arithmetic (Rochester: P.S. Stoddard, 1842). Origins of Cyberspace 353.
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