Leibniz's Stepped Reckoner – Hanover, Germany - Atlas Obscura

Leibniz's Stepped Reckoner

An extraordinary mechanical calculator designed by the mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. 


“…it is beneath the dignity of excellent men to waste their time in calculation when any peasant could do the work just as accurately with the aid of a machine.” — Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

This marvelous adding machine was designed and built between in 1692 and 1694 by the brilliant German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. Two original machines were built, but this is the last remaining example of an original “Leibniz Calculator” as they were sometimes called.

Leibniz was inspired by Pascal’s design for an adding machine, known as the Pascaline, developed in 1642. Leibniz’s mechanical innovation, called the stepped cylinder, later inspired the miniaturized form of the Curta Calculator, designed in Nazi-occupied Austria during WWII.

Liebniz’s original is on display at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek (the National Library of Lower Saxony). A replica is on display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

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