ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Curta Calculators ~ Vintage Mechanical Calculators

Updated on September 11, 2018

1950 Curta Mechanical Calculator

Curta Calculators

Vintage Curta Calculators are small hand held mechanical calculators with a hand crank introduced in the late 1940s. The Curta calculator was considered the most accurate portable calculator available, and was widely used by scientists, engineers, surveyors, and accountants during the 1950s and 1960s until they were displaced by electronic calculators in the 1970s.

The Curta is a type of mechanical calculator known as a stepped drum calculator. This small cylinder calculator looked almost like a pepper grinder or peppermill. The first productions of the Curta calculator were initially shown at the Basel Trade Fair in Switzerland in May of 1949.

The Curta calculator was invented by Curt Herzstark, an Austrian inventor and manufacturer of calculators, who completed the design of this mechanical calculator while imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany during WWII. The entire story of this is recounted in an interview with Curt Herzstark that is available in pdf format here: Curt Herzstark Interview (1987)

To use the Curta calculator one would hold the mechanical calculator in the palm of your left hand, while using the hand crank with your right hand. There were two versions of the Curta calculator, the Type I and the Type II.

According to a reproduction of a CURTA brochure, the differences in the two models of the calculator are their calculating capacities and weight.

The brochure lists the two types as follows:

CURTA Model I, calculating capacity 8x6x11 digits (weight 8 ozs.)

CUTRA Model II, calculating capacity 11x8x15 digits (weight 12 ozs.)

With the invention of the electronic calculator, mechanical calculators like the Curta became obsolete, and production of the Curta calculator ceased in 1972. As with many unique but outdated inventions, the Curta Calculator has become a collectible item. You can buy a vintage Curta Calculator on eBay. I've listed some of the recent sale prices and values of Curta calculators towards the bottom of this page.

More about the Curta Calculator:

Curta Calculator Serial Numbers and Dates Produced

Do You Own a Curta Calculator?

Do you own a Curta Calculator?

See results
Curta Calculators
Curta Calculators

Curta Calculator History

The Astounding Curta Mechanical Calculator - How the Curta Calculator Works

Witness the jaw-dropping ingenuity of this fascinating hand-held mechanical calculating machine. Watch this video below to see how the Curta calculator can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and even more. This video show a variety of mathematical calculations. He even takes the cover off his mechanical calculator showing you the internal mechanisms of the calculator.

1969 Curta Mechanical Calculator Print Ad
1969 Curta Mechanical Calculator Print Ad

1969 Curta Calculator Print Ad

Curta Calculator Advertisement

This 1969 Curta Calculator magainze print advertisement reads:

Miniature

All Purpose Calculator

(Curta Calculator picture)

Weighs only 8 oz.

THE CURTA IS A PRECISION CALCULATING MACHINE FOR ALL ARITHMETICAL OPERATIONS

Curta adds, subtracts, multiplies, divides, square and cube roots, continuous multiplication, negative multiplication, standard deviations and all statistical calculations, squares and higher powers, co-ordinates and associated land survey formulae, and every other computation arising in science and commerce....Available on a trial basis.

Price $125.00. Write for literature.

Curta Company

Dept. SA-9 P.O. Box 3414

Van Nuys, California

Curta Mechanical Calculator

Curta Mechanical Calculator

Curta Mechanical Calculator
Curta Mechanical Calculator


Curta Mechanical Calculator photo by Jeff Keyzer

The placard behind this museum displayed

Curta Calculator reads:

Curta

The Curta mechanical calculator provided more accurate results than a slide rule. Numbers were entered in the "coffee grinder" by moving the small knobs on the side, the crank was turned, and the result was displayed in the silver area on top.

About Curta Calculators
About Curta Calculators


Curta Calculator History photo by Marshall Astor

Another museum placard reads:

Curta Calculator, 1948-1970, Mauren Contina Ltd., Liechtenstein

Austrian Curt Herzstark designed a calculator while imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during WW II. Soon after the war, Herzstark established a factory in Liechtenstein that manufactured the calculators from 1948 until the early 1970s. The devide, a very small and highly sophisticated calculating machine, was based on Leibniz's stepped drum concept. The small Model I had eleven digits of accuracy, while the Model II had fifteen. Herzstark called his invention "Curta", a name he had wanted to give the daughter he never had.

How Much is a Curta Calculator Worth?

What is the Value of Curta Calculators

Many people who own a Curta Calculator are interested to know what it's worth. One way to find out the estimated value of a Curta Calculator is to see what other calculators in similar condition have recently sold for. You can do this by browsing the SOLD listings on eBay.

This is a small sampling of Curta calculators that have SOLD on eBay recently. I update this page occasionally with the newest sale prices from ebay. This can give you a good indication of the Value of Curta Calculators. As with any collectible item, values are affecting by rarity, condition of the item, and the number of bidders on any one particular auction. The most valuable and rarest of the Curta calculators are the Demo calculator kits.

Curta Calculator Value

  • Curta Calculator Type 1 Demo Kit - Contina A.G. Vaduz/Liechenstein - Sold for GBP 6,210.00 ~ US $ 9,716.79 (Sold on Oct 1, 2011)
  • Curta Calculator Demo Kits are rare to find. This one was in excellent used condition with all components present and the mechanism was fully operational. The serial number was 35177.
  • VERY EARLY CURTA Calculator Type 2 #500236 in near MINT Condition! - SOLD for $3400
  • Rare Early 1949 Curta Calculator Type I, Low Serial Number 4468 in good condition - Value / Worth - Sold on eBay for GBP 1.995 ~ US $3,121.58
  • RARE - Early CURTA Calculator TYPE I #9241 - MINT STATE - 1950 - SOLD for $2499
  • EARLY CURTA CALCULATOR TYPE II - NO 500189 - 8TH EARLIEST KNOWN EXAMPLE - SOLD for $2153.05
  • Early CURTA Calculator TYPE II #507757 - MINT STATE - 1956 - SOLD for $1999.00
  • SALE ! RARE ! EARLY CURTA Calculator Type 1 #4950 with PIN SLIDERS ! near MINT ! - SOLD for $1890.00
  • Curta Type II Calculator with original manuals and vintage leather carrying case. Serial # 544804 - SOLD for $1825.00
  • CURTA Calculator Type I, Serial Number #6397 - Value / Worth - Sold on eBay for GBP 1,108.50 ~ US $1,734.47
  • Rare Early CURTA Calculator TYPE II #508697 in Mint Condition - Value / Worth - Sold on eBay for $1,599
  • Antique CURTA Calculator Type I Serial #78000 in Mint Condition - Value / Worth - Sold on eBay for $1500
  • EARLY CURTA Calculator Type 2 in MINT condition, Low Serial # 503651 - Value / Worth - Sold on eBay for $1,499
  • EARLY CURTA Calculator Type 2 #508619 in MINT Condition - Value / Worth - Sold on eBay for $1,499
  • June 1968 Late CURTA Calculator TYPE II #559546 - Like New Condition, WITH BOX - Value Worth - Sold on eBay for $1,399
  • CURTA Calculator Type 1, Excellent, serial number 13517, Made in 1951 - Value Worth - Sold on eBay for $1320
  • CURTA TYPE II CALCULATOR in NEW State with original case and manuals, appears to have been never used, Serial number 559962 which places it's manufacturing date around November 1970 - Value / Worth - Sold for GBP 850 ~ US $1318.78
  • Late CURTA Calculator Type II, Serial Number #549450 - January 1966, Like New State - Value Worth - Sold on eBay for $1299
  • RARE : EARLY CURTA Calculator Type I #25811 in MINT Condition! LOW serial number, fully serviced the 9th of July - Value Worth - Sold on eBay for $1205
  • Curta Type I 1 Vintage Hand Crank Mechanical Calculator, No. 70141, May 1968, manual in both German and English included, tube case included - Value Worth - Sold on eBay for $1200
  • Early CURTA Calculator TYPE I #15604 Very Good State - Serial Number 15604, September 1951 - Value Worth - Sold on eBay for $1199
  • Early CURTA Calculator Type 2, Low Serial Number #507285 in MINT Condition - Value Worth - Sold on eBay for $1184.99

Curta Calculator Pictures and Videos

Photos of CURTA Calculators - These Curta Calculators are NOT for Sale

Curta Calculator
Curta Calculator


Curta Calculator photo by Dan Zen

Curta Calculator Type I
Curta Calculator Type I


Curta Calculator Type I photo by Food Fetishist

The info reads Curta Calculator - Type I, Liechtenstein, c. 1947-1970

Curta Calculator Type II
Curta Calculator Type II


Curta Calculator Type II photo by Food Fetishist

This photo is obviously taken in a museum. The information in front of the calculator reads: "Curta Calculator - Type II, Liechtenstein, c. 1954-1970.

Curta Calculator in Action
Curta Calculator in Action


Curta Calculator photo by RobotSkirts

Curta Calculator
Curta Calculator


Curta Mechanical Calculator photo by Jon Callas

Curta hand calculator, Deutsches Museum, Munich


Curta Calculator - Curta Calculator invented in a WWII Concentration Camp

Assembly of YACS - Yet Another Curta Simulator - How to Assemble a Curta Calculator

This is a simulation video using virtual reality modeling language to show the parts and assembly of a

Curta Calculator.

How the Curta Calculator Works - Curta Calculator Simulator

Comments and Questions about the CURTA Calculator - How did you like this Curta Calculator Page?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ephemerania lm profile image

      ephemerania lm 

      6 years ago

      Fascinating...I've seen many different types of calculating devices but was not aware of these !

    • profile image

      klaird 

      6 years ago

      The simulation videos of how the Curta calculator works are interesting to watch.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)