Daily Alta California, 13 February 1857
We read in the Moniteur – “M. Thomas, of Colmar, has lately made the finishing improvements in the calculating machine, called the arithmometer, at which he has been working for upwards of thirty years. Pascal and Leibnitz, in the 17th century, and Diderot at a later period, endeavored to construct a machine which might serve as a substitute for human intelligence in the combination of figures, but failed. M. Thomas’s arithmometer may be used without the least trouble or possibility of error, not only for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, but also for much more complex operations such as the extraction of the square root, involution, the resolution of triangles, &c. A multiplication of eight figures by eight others is made in eighteen seconds ; a division of sixteen figures by eight figures in 24 seconds; and in one minute and a quarter one can extract the square root of 16 figures, and also prove the accuracy of the calculation. The arithmometer adapts itself to every sort of combination. As an instance of the wonderful extent of its powers, we may state that it can furnish in a few seconds products amounting to 999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999! A marvelious number, comparable to the infinite multitude of stars which stud the firmament, or the particles of dust which float in the atmosphere. The working of this instrument is, however, most simple. To raise or lower a nut screw, to turn a winch a few times, and, by means of a button, to slide off a metal plate from left to right, or from right to left, is the whole secret. Instead of simply reproducing the operations of man’s intelligence, the arithmometer relieves that intelligence from the necessity of making the operations. Instead of repeating responses dictated to it, this instrument instantaneously dictates the proper answer to the man who asks it a question.
“It is not a matter of producing material effects, but matter much thinks, reflects, reasons, calculates and executes all the most difficult and complicated arithmetical operations, with a rapidity and infallibility which defies all the calculators in the world. The arithmometer is moreover a simple instrument, of very little volume and easily portable. It is already used in many great financial establishments, where considerable economy is realized by its employment. It will soon be considered as indispensable, and be as generally used as a clock, which was formerly only to be seen in palaces, and is now in every cottage. Generally speaking, the practical application of any great mechanical improvement involves an injury to certain interests, but that is not the case here. The arithmometer will not cause to the persons employed in banks, counting houses, and public offices any such prejudices as the knitters suffered from the invention of the stocking frame, the spinners from the spinning jennies, or copyists from the invention of printing.
The person who makes use of this machine even daily does not therefore lose his aptitude for calculation in the ordinary way. On the contrary, although a child may be easily taught to perform the most complicated calculations by the use of the instrument, the more expert in figures the operator is the more advantage he will derive from the aid of this machine. The arithmometer is not only a palpable evidence of a great difficulty overcome; it is an element of wealth, a new means of multiplying time, like the locomotive engine and the electric telegraph. The discovery is an event the full importance of which it is impossible as yet to measure.”