acm-header
Sign In

Communications of the ACM

BLOG@CACM

Promoting Economic Development through Technical Innovation


Herbert Bruderer

Bulletin de la société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale (BSEIN)

No well-sounding name like Science or Nature. Inconspicuous, largely unknown, but still high-quality. A veritable treasure chest with diverse technical texts and superb drawings of machines and tools of all kinds (both copper engravings and woodcuts, see Figs. 1–3). The journal appeared for 142 years without interruption from 1802 to 1943. Only a few Swiss scientific libraries carried the rare publication from Paris: Bulletin de la société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale.

Individual references in French publications and books about the history of mathematics led to the awareness of the Bulletin, published by the first French nonprofit society, founded in 1801 and still in existence today: the Société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale (SEIN). Its goal is the promotion of economic development through technical innovation.

All volumes of the journal were digitized and are accessible cost-free online. The author is not aware of any German or English language magazine of comparable value dealing with the history of technology. It contains an enormous number of historical contributions, covering all kinds of subjects. Some examples from the earliest decades are agriculture, chemistry, clocks, coin mintage, fire departments, foods, light, looms, machine construction, measuring instruments, musical instruments, patents, the printing industry, potteries, sawmills, steam engines, steam locomotives, steamships, tools, traffic systems, and windmills.

Rudolf Mehmke mentions the Bulletin de la société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale in his treatise "Numerisches Rechnen" (see Akademien der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Leipzig, München und Wien (editors): Encyklopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften mit Einschluss ihrer Anwendungen, B. G. Teubner, Leipzig 1900–1904, volume 1, part 2, pages 938–1079 in several footnotes).

 

Fig. 1: Drawing of the Thomas arithmometer dating from 1822.
This drawing conveys an insight into the design of the Thomas machine patented in 1820.
Credit: Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, Cnam, Paris

 

Fig. 2: Drawing of the Thomas arithmometer dating from 1879.
This drawing shows six stepped drums next to each other for the ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc.,
with (stepped) teeth of different lengths. These represent the numerals 0 to 9.
Credit: Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, Cnam, Paris

 

Fig. 3: Drawing of the Thomas arithmometer dating from 1879.
Top left: 6-place setting mechanism with levers for numerical input,
as well as the display windows for the 7-place revolution counter and the 12-place result mechanism.
Alongside: cross section with stepped drum and the half-open movable carriage.
Bottom left: Longitudinal view of the tens carry.
Alongside: Drive with crank.
Credit: Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, Cnam, Paris

 

Source

Herbert Bruderer: Milestones in Analog and Digital Computing, Springer Nature Switzerland AG, Cham, 3rd edition 2020, 2 volumes, 2113 pages, 715 illustrations, 151 tables, translated from the German by John McMinn, https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783030409739

 

Herbert Bruderer is a retired lecturer in didactics of computer science at ETH Zurich. More recently, he has been an historian of technology. bruderer@retired.ethz.ch, herbert.bruderer@bluewin.


 

No entries found

Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account