My Years with Marchant

Ernie Jorgenson


As I look back on my years with the Marchant Calculating Machine Company, I look at the best working years of my life. We were out on our own, no one 'breathing down our neck,' and the paycheck was always in the P.O. Box on Saturday morning.

We had a great product in the Marchant Electro-Mechanical Calculator. Early Marchants were produced at a plant located in the 1400 block of Powell St., in Oakland California and later in their new plant located at 6701 San Pablo,Oakland.

The early Marchants such as the XL - EEG9,s - Pony Models were produced from the early part of the century until the early 1930's. It is my understanding that the first 'Silent Speed' machine entered production in 1932, that would be the 8D's - 8M's, - CR8M - ACR8M - ACTOM..

Manufacturing of the FA Figuremaster-Figurematic line began in about 1948. These Machines were painted with green on the side/front and back covers with a gray carriage cover.

I started working for Marchant in Nov of 1953 in Eugene Oregon as a service trainee. Training was on the job, however Marchant had a training school in Pittsburgh,PA. Later as more as more models entered the Marchant line, they had training centers in Oakland and Columbia, S.C.

I was soon transferred to the Salem Oregon Branch. It was there, under the instruction of Mike Engleson, that I really began to understand the theory of the Marchant and how to repair it. Within 18 months or so I was transferred to Lewiston, Idaho to establish a new office and become the service supervisor. Not only did I service Marchants in Lewiston, but I also sold them.

During my early years with Marchant, they released a number of new models in the Figurematic and Figuremaster lines:

  • Model SD Figurematic (1951).
  • Model EFA Figuremaster (1951) Similar to the FA - but with automatic division line up. ( a two piece division key).
  • Model AB10FA Figuremaster (1951) Live Tabulator machine replaced the ACT10M.
  • Model ADX Figurematic (1953) - In both 8 and 10 column models.
  • Chain Store Special (1953) With a 12 Volt Power Supply.
  • Model RX ( 1955) A very high speed multiplier with no division.
  • Model C10ADX-X (1956) - Which would allow the individual entry of multiplied Items on the right side of a split carriage and accumulate the Grand Total on the left side of the carriage.
  • Model G (1955) 'G' after the serial number denotes a machine with Radio Shielded Motor Drive Unit.
  • Model S-8ADX - S-8DRX (1955) Retail store special.
  • Model TR10FA (1955) AB10FA with 'Back Transfer. Has blue covers.
  • Models 8 and 10DCR (1958) Bar type multiplier.
  • Model SKA Deci-Magic (1958) Single Keyboard Automatic. Has blue covers.


In the same time frame, Marchant introduced the TKM ( Ten Key Matic ) which was built by Hammond in Germany. This was a 10 key Drum Type calculator. It was later redesigned and called the Model 505 which was finished in Cream and Blue.

Marchant did not have an adding machine and in 1958 they acquired the nearly defunct Johnson Adding Machine Company. As I recall, Johnson was an engineer for Remington Rand, he designed a new concept in adding machine mechanics that did not interest Remington, so he went out on his own. The early Marchant/Johnson were designated Model A-11 and were painted the standard Marchant Green, after a great deal of redesigning the machine was painted Tan and there were two Models, 900 and 1100.

In 1958 Marchant merged with Smith Corona to form the SCM Corporation, the SCM logo would soon appear on paint cans, home appliances and food items, as well as their office products lines. They Also acquired the Allied Paper company and release the Model 55 electro-static liquid copy machine that was being built in Skoie, Illinois.

In 1963 Marchant moved the calculator factory from Oakland California, were it had been located for more than 50 years, to Orangeburg South Carolina. During this time they released the 'Model Consolidation' with new, more modern tan covers, such Models as the CMF - CM - CDF - CD and SK, were included in this new line.

The machines shipped from the Orangeburg plant fell short of the standards we came to expect from Oakland. I clearly recall receiving machines with spare parts enclosed in the shipping carton with instruction to replace these parts before selling the machine.

It was during the release of the Diehl line of calculators in about 1967 that I had enough of Marchants 'new releases' and took a position at Washington State University as service manager of their newly established office machine repair department. I returned to Marchant two years later, first as a sales representative and later as district sales manager, a job I held until Marchant eliminated there district offices.

The Diehl line of calculators were made in Germany and consisted of several mechanical printing calculators with such designations as 212, 312, 416 and 416S and one rotary calculator with 'backtransfer,' designated the VSR, which looked very much like a Friden. These were perhaps the very finest mechanical calculators ever build. They had great customer acceptance and operated very well. Sales of this line of machines was very brisk.

By the late 1960's it was clear that Marchant had to get into the electronics field. By this time Canon and Sharp had both released electronic 'nixie tube' machines. The Sharp was soon being marketed by Burroughs and Facit. The Friden CRT 132 was released during this time frame, HP, Wang, Monroe, TI, Rockwell, and others were entering the electronic market.

In the early 1970's Marchant began selling electronic, one machine the Model 520 built by CompuCorp, a machine built by Toshiba and a small hand held electronic called the Model 210.

Marchant was back in business when they released the eye appealing Cogito 414, a four function 'nixie tube' machine with memory and soon a smaller Cogito 312.

These machines were being built in the Oakland California Plant.

The Marchant M1 was released in 1971 (also designated as an F80 and painted tan). These were 8 digit 4 function ac/dc 'nixie tube' calculators that sold for $495.00 and we sold them like 'hot cakes.' They soon released an electronic printing calculator called the Cogito 616 and a smaller version the Cotigo 516. For their time the electronics were fairly stable in these machines, but they were large and had a very unreliable printing unit. Soon they released the Cogito 1016 PR with IOTA ( Input Output Tape Accessory ) This was a programmable machine that work well, but used the same printer as the 616 and 516. The time frame for this equipment was 1971 to 1973.

Soon Marchant was purchasing machines manufactured by the Addmaster Corporation of San Gabriel (later Monrovia) California. Some of the Model designations of the Addmaster Marchants were the 438, 293D, 288 and later, when Addmaster was selling direct to dealers using the Marchant logo, some model designations were 125PD, 130PD, 145PD and 150PD. These were all printing calculators. Addmaster is no longer in the calculator business.

On Thursday, October 11, 1973, I received a call from the San Francisco District Sales Office instructing me to be in SF on Friday morning the 12th. When I arrived at the Hotel Thursday night, all the managers from the West Coast were there. We were sure what we all expected was about to come true, and it did. At a meeting on Friday we were all dismissed with 2 weeks pay, and so ended 23 years of service.

They did however, for a short time, continue to operated their branch offices while trying to build a dealer organization.

You can buy a new Marchant Calculator today. Jim Funke of Clary Business Machines at 3353 University Ave S.E., Minneapolis, Minnesota is importing machines bearing the Marchant logo and designated as Models 245PD and 150PD (this is also the Monroe 220). I spoke with Mr. Funke on the telephone in April of 1997 and he indicated to me that he sold several thousands machines HUH!!

That could be something I could do in my retirement.

Ernie Jorgenson

December, 1987


X-Number World