The Walther Company
Historic Recollections

Ray Mackay



Carl Walther Company, of Germany came in to existence in circa 1886 and in 1903 began the production of fire arms for hunting and target practice. To put this in perspective for our American friends this was the year that France erected the Statue of Liberty in New York as a gift. In 1908 with a labour force of around fifteen Fritz Walther designed the first WALTHER automatic Pocket pistol. The fire arm products became renowned by sporting groups as the byword for precision and reliability. The great depression in 1923 saw a company under great stress for even a box of matches sold for 1 billion marks. In spite of difficulties the Walther Company managed to start again.
By 1924 the Company looking towards new products to assist its recovery commenced making calculating machines based on the pin drum mechanism. A method by which depending on a selection lever a number of teeth remained protruding to actuate a pinion located in a movable carriage. Early MRKD CalcAn electrified version, the EMKD, was manufactured around 1929 and this model had independent carriage shift keys. Similar mechanical machines were still available as late as the early 1970’s and were designated the WSR 110 and WSR 160. One assumes the number designated the capacity.
Early WALTHER TASMA Listing Machine In 1931 the rather strange looking machine on the left was added to the range. This machine was designated the TASMA and worked as a print out calculator. It appears to have sub total and grand total keys as well as a clearance key. Each time an entry was added to the keyboard the large crank was pulled forward adding the information into the accumulators and printing the keyboard data on to the paper roll. Prices of such machines may be of interest to the readers wishing to know them for historic purpose. The EMK (Electric machine) with semi-automatic division was around 850 Reichmark whereas the, EMKD model, fully automatic division model sold for 950 Reichmark. The least expensive Tasma listing machine sold for 240 Reichmark and there were around seventeen models in the range. Three models were electrically driven. Little is reported about Walther during the years that Europe was ravaged by war and one assumes, in the light of how Governments work, that Walther, as a machine tool company, would be forced to join the war effort in manufacturing weapons. This is only an assumption on the authors behalf, however, it is the likeliest scenario.
Orig Walther Fatory @ Zella-Mahlis in ThuringiaAt the onset of the war in 1939 the old factory, which Carl Walther founded in Zella-Mahlis in the region of Thuringia employed some 2000 people. By the end of the second world war the factory was lost either because it was located in the new state of East Germany or because it had been bombed out of existence; information related to East Germany is not easy to come by. Suffice to say a new home was required. At first a team of Walther engineers worked in makeshift workshops in the town of Heidenhelm. These workshops looked little better than an army barracks platoon hut. Nevertheless, as a result of their labours the Walther Company got ready to make calculating machines again. New factories were built over the next few years. First of all at Niederstotingen in 1948 manufacturing a new version of the RMKZ, followed by factories at Königsbronn, Gerstetten, and Ulm (1950). In a very short time the plants are in full production and by 1947 were employing as many people as the old plant was employing in 1939. In addition the plants had the very latest in technology, new machine tools, new presses and advanced techniques. It was not very long before the Walther name was once again as synonymous with quality equipment as it had been prior to the war. New jobs created vacancies for new apprentices and these were trained in the use of modern equipment from an early age. Many hundreds of parts are required to construct adding machines and these apprentices were given the opportunity to learn from the ground up.
Pride was engendered in the workforce and this was revealed in the design and quality of the machines. As the author was only involved with Walther Office equipment he has no knowledge of parallel projects although he believes the Ulm plant was dedicated to the manufacture of sporting guns. The fact such weapons were made is evidenced by the current Walther CP-88 CO2 Pistol (air pistol) which indicates the manufacture of such equipment continued. This does not interest us greatly and is merely added as a point of historic interest. Our interest is in the continuation of various mechanical calculating machines. Apart from newer versions of the old products the author knows of no new products until around 1952 when George Walther introduced a 220 cycle electronic adding machine ( the 101WS ? ) to the Hanover Fair. At this time the 220 cycles being the fastest machine available. The machine had a bulbous appearance in an, at the time considered fashionable, buff colour. The machine had an accumulator section that could be toggled to the front or rear of the machine to add or subtract as required. The numbers were entered through a ten or twelve digital keyboard, plus function keys (plus, minus, sub-total and grand total plus a reference key) in the case of Australian machines I seem to recall a ‘Whole Number Key’ that when down, jumped the pin box left to inhibit the racks normally used for 'sterling' operations. Numbers entered into the keyboard were stored in a pin box located under the keyboard and as each new digit was entered the pin box moved left one position until the complete number was entered. On pressing a function key the racks moved towards the rear of the machine until they were stopped by the pin box. At the same time the accumulator section toggled into the upper segment racks thus adding the corresponding number into the accumulator. Any carry overs dropped a secondary rack back one position and as the collector bail collected the mechanism to return it to normal the carries were added to the accumulator section. In printing to the paper the printing wheels were rotated into the position designated by the pin box and at the end of the operation the spring loaded wheel arms were released towards the platen putting an impression on the paper via a two colour ink ribbon.
S33 ComptessThis bulky machine was soon replaced by a rather neat version called the Comptess (or S33). The new ‘Comptess’ was, in any case, a delightful little piece of equipment in a two tone plastic case and they were relatively inexpensive. Excellent for the small business on limited funds. They were a great selling item featuring a good sturdy mechanism that performed almost flawlessly in the years I worked on them. The S33 also had a sister machine called the Multa 33 that multiplied automatically. A heavy duty (sterling) machine called the P12 was still available for those who liked good solid machines. The possibility exists that the twelve in the name indicated the least significant position on the machine had a twelve tooth rack and twelve tooth pinions for adding pence plus a ten shilling column (three rows). The cross section drawing illustrates the general concept. I may at some later date fill in some specific details of its operational concepts. This basic concept however provided the basis for many models including a model capable of multiplication (called the Multa 32 and introduced around 1959). A model capable of duplex operation and its counter part a multiplying duplex machine the Multa GT. A model capable of division called the DIWA 32. Some models had a shuttle carriage that enabled them to be used as airline ticket and railway ticket writers.

Duplex32 machineOthers with duplex registers could be programmed to work as small ledger machines producing debit and credit dual column balance sheets.

A rotating tabular rack with stop pins to locate the carriage was introduced and this allowed it to be rotated to one of four user selectable positions. As racks were available one assumes that many racks could be stocked for varying the operation to suit the job.

Multiplying/Dividing machineIf one remembers that most of these machines were printing calculators it indicated the Walther range was possibly one of the most comprehensive available. The use of sprocket feed platens added the availability of continous forms to the already comprehensive arsenal. It is sad to say that in the hay day of production writings started to appear on the wall. Electronic machines were starting to appear. In what appeared to the author to be moves of desperation more stream lined presentations were introduced to make the machines appealing to modern taste.

New Squarish designThe machines took on a squarish form as per the illustration to the right. The Walther Company was obviously very aware of this `writing on the wall’ as rapid changes were made to cater for the new era. The first signs were drawings that incorporated electronic gates in order, one assumes, to create the image of a very up to date company. Electronic models of the Walther started to be produced however the state of the art had ever changing goal posts. Everything was moving very quickly, some may argue too quickly.
Electronics starts to replace mechanicsThe author continued on in the industry however track of the Walther and the Company was lost around February of 1979. By that time several electronic machines manufactured by Walther were in full production but Companies like H.W. Egli (MADAS) and Walther did not seem to fit in this new world. By the mid eighties even electronic machines were being updated almost as quickly as the schematics and drawings touched the drawing board.

Poodle MascotWalther adopted a walking poodle in many adverts and as time has marched on those of us who remember a lifetime of association wonder how such a giant could simply walk out of the picture. Using the very latest office machines I have browsed the Web, searched encyclopaedias and made numerous inquiries. I can still find the original firearms manufacturer. The little Walther poodle carrying the numbers however ‘seems to have walked right out of the picture.

Peacock Bros StandThis report covers memories of only a small area of a very large company. The recollections cover only the mechanical calculator aspects of Walther. Details and knowledge were gained from an association of some twenty years as service manager of Peacock Bros of Melbourne, Australia. The information is provided in response to questions received via the Internet. Every endeavour has been made to keep the recollections accurate. The information is to be considered available for educational purpose however, it may not be used for profit or gain. Logos and business names are the properties of the respective companies.
  Copyright © Ray Mackay. December 1997 All rights reserved

X-Number World