Picture-1 0f Curta Type II 1954 - 1970
INFORMATIONThe Curta is a small, hand-cranked mechanical calculator introduced in 1948. It has an extremely compact design, a small cylinder that fits in the palm of the hand. It can be used to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and, with more difficulty, square roots and other operations. The Curta's design is a descendant of Gottfried Leibniz's Stepped Reckoner and Thomas's Arithmometer, accumulating values on cogs, which are added or complemented by a stepped drum mechanism.
The InventorThe Curta was invented by Curt Herzstark in 1938 just before he was a prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Following the end of WWII he completed and perfected the design. They were made in Liechtenstein by Contina AG Mauren. They were widely considered the best portable calculators available, until they were displaced by electronic calculators in the 1970s.
Curta Type I and Type IIThe Type I Curta has 8 digits of slides, a 6-digit revolution counter, and an 11-digit result counter. According to the advertising literature, it weighs only 8 ounces (about 230 grams). The larger Type II Curta, introduced in 1954, has 11 digits of slides, an 8-digit revolution counter, and a 15-digit result counter.
An estimated 140,000 Curta calculators have been made (80,000 Type I and Only 60,000 Type II). The last Curta was produced in November, 1970
Use in car ralliesThe Curta was popular among contestants in sports car rallies during the 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s. Even after the introduction of the electronic calculator for other purposes, they were used in time-speed-distance (TSD) rallies to aid in computation of times to checkpoints, distances off-course, etc., since the early electronic calculators did not fare well with the bounces and jolts of rally racing.
Contestants who used such calculators were often called "Curta-crankers" by those who were limited to paper and pencil, or who used computers linked to the car's wheels. Curta calculators contributed to the saying when describing the process of calculating, "Cranking out the answer."