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Cyber Monday: 1924

Cyber Monday: 1924

November 24, 1924. Washington, D.C. "Computing Division, soldiers' bonus." Clerks at the "Bonus Bureau" calculating benefits for World War I veterans. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Calculating Caluators

As late as the early 1960s the DuPont finance department was using full keyboard mechanical calculators. OK with add and subtract; bit long in time for multiplication and near endless grinding on division. When division was need, you calculated the reciprocal of the number and then used that for multiplication.

RE: Calculators

The machines in the background are most likely Burroughs glass-sided adding machines, whereas the small ones closer up are Burroughs direct adders.

The direct adder doesn't print and it only does simple adding, so it can be much smaller.


The ladies in the foreground have little adding machines on their desks. The folks in the background have giant mechanical calculators with printers. I assume they were working percentages or some other task that requires number-crunching effort.

I'd be interested in a closer photo of the calculators, if one is available. They are quite impressive. Mainly, in that none of them have side covers.

Open Office

In today's office environment, open office plans are "new". Hah!

Built to last.

Manufactured until 1930, the GE Model 75423 electric fan. I have an unrestored near perfect one in my collection. I hope they are bolted down as they are extremely heavy.

Heat wave?

Now that we've figured out the radiator situation, it is interesting to note that they are not in use this particular November 24th, and instead the GE fans are all running and the windows open to keep the clerks cool. I also see no coats hanging, so it's not just because of a hot office.

Hot stuff!

The pipes are for the steam radiators under the windows. You can barely see one next to the lady on the right.

"Trust, but Verify"

Items of note:

Clerks are not 100% female.

Hat racks are crowded.

Bare Pipes and Covered Heads

I was curious about the pipes too. But I soon realized they had to be to the radiators for the floor above. The configuration allows for expansion. The bare concrete structure doesn't allow for hiding the overhead utilities.

But what a collection of hats and umbrellas! No girl should be without.

re: Pipes

There is a radiator under each window. The pipes feed the radiators on the floor above.


Steam heat pipes.

I thought it was a single pipe system, but a closer look seems to indicate that the "riser" pipes are not the same size, so it is more likely a two-pipe system.

Then our eyes met --

Perhaps a little older than most of the girls, she's in the center of the photo. She has light colored hair, a kind gaze, and a slight smile. I involuntarily smiled back.

Re: Pipes

We can see a radiator under the window at the right, so the pipes are probably the feed and return pipes for the radiators on the next floor.


What a strange configuration of pipes along the ceiling above the windows. Certainly not heat or fire supression related.

Looks like they're running DOS

That's "Desk Operating System".

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