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chadwick speedee add a matic wm sm

Chadwick-Miller Inc (CMI) was a Boston based importer of  low-cost gift items and stationery products sourced mostly from Japan.  These products were branded as Chadwick-Miller although CMI was not a manufacturer.  It is known that Chadwick-Miller was in business in 1960, although its founding year is unknown.  The company dissolved in 2007.

Amongst the stationery items that Chadwick-Miller was known for over the years are three different models of a stapleless stapler, a mini paper cutter, Magic Brain calculator, and of course the Speedee Add-A-Matic adding machine.

The Speedee was a manual adding machine that could not perform subtraction.  It consisted of eight columns and five rows of keys in both maroon and ivory.  It had a nine digit display that could add up to 9⋅Ÿ999Ÿ⋅999Ÿ⋅99.  It could perform multiplication by using repeat action.  In other words, if you wanted multiply 3 x 5 you would simply hit the number 3 five times or the number 5 three times.  The large maroon button on the left is the reset button.

If you examine the keyboard you’ll note that it only shows numbers 1 through 5.  If you want to use numbers 6 through 9 then what you do is hit two keys that add up to that number.  For example if you wanted to add 8 you would hit the 5 and 3 keys or the 4 key twice.  While this may seem odd to modern eyes there was a rational reason for this.  It was shown that professional operators could move very quickly on the bottom five numbers but would have to slow down to reposition their hands for higher numbers.  It was found (and yes, there were actual studies) that it was faster to simply hit two buttons and not have to reposition your hands.    Of course, it helped that this also made the mechanics less complicated and lowered manufacturing costs.

1964 Hartford Courant Ad wm sm

1964 newspaper ad

The first known advertisement for the Speedee is in 1964 and the last known one was in 1973.  For a product of this type that is actually quite a good run.  When introduced the price averaged $40 but by the 1970s had dropped to an average of $20 with sales offering it for $15 fairly often.

1966 Wichita Eagle Ad wm sm

1966 newspaper ad

The Speedee measures 10.8125 inches long by 8.6875 inches wide by 3.75 inches high.  It weighs 3 pounds 1.4 ounces and is made from plastic, steel, and composite board.  The mechanics are mostly steel with the number dials made from plastic and the number levers being made of composite board.

Accessing the internal mechanism is straightforward.  Simply flip the unit upside down and remove the four screws holding in the protective plate.

chadwick speedee add a matic bottom with plate wm sm

bottom view

With the protective plate removed you can simply slide the mechanism out of the case.

chadwick speedee add a matic bottom without plate wm sm

bottom view with protective plate removed

chadwick speedee add a matic mechanics wm sm

internal mechanics removed from the shell

This form factor had been in use since the early 20th century with machines such as the comptometer.  On the whole they were much easier to use than dial, chain, or slide adders especially for those trained in their use.  Unlike other key-driven machines though the plastic case and small size meant that this unit was a fraction of the weight of others of the period, although it was limited in that it was strictly an adder.

The Speedee Add-A-Matic is a good quality machine and many are still perfectly usable 50 plus years after their manufacture.  There’s no reason you couldn’t pick one up on the secondary market and use it for its intended purpose today.

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1968 newspaper ad

1970 Commercial Appeal Ad wm sm

1970 newspaper ad

Speedee Add A Matic box illustration wm sm

box cover illustration

Patent and Other Information:

Notes:

  1. Chadwick-Miller Inc. (1960, March 28), Help Wanted, The Boston Globe, page 20
  2. Sage-Allen, (1964, October 28), advertisement, The Hartford Courant, page 6
  3. Gimbels, (1965, February 19), advertisement, The Philadelphia Inquirer, page 12
  4. Innes, (1966, April 8), advertisement, The Wichita Eagle, page 3B
  5. Spencer Gifts, (1967, November 26), advertisement, Chicago Tribune, page 109
  6. Elder-Beerman, (1968, April 28), advertisement, Dayton Daily News, page 11
  7. Elder-Beerman, (1969, January 6), advertisement, Journal Herald, page 3
  8. Lowenstein’s, (1970, July 25), advertisement, The Commercial Appeal, page 5
  9. Eaton’s, (1973, July 4), advertisement, The Vancouver Sun, page 25

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