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Document Details


Title: Curt Herzstark
Local code: OH 140
Document type: Oral history
Accessibility: Free Only
Repository: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Charles Babbage Institute
Collection: Charles Babbage Institute Oral History Program
Description: Herzstark, an Austrian inventor and manufacturer of calculators, describes the development of the Austrian Calculating Machine Manufacturing Company (Rechenmaschinefabrik der Austria Erstanden Compagnie) and his subsequent work in the industry. The company, founded in Vienna by his father, Samuel Herzstark, in 1905, introduced the first electrically-driven calculator based on improved designs of the Thomas Arithmometer. Herzstark describes the disruption of the industry during World War I, his involvement with the company after the war, competition with American companies, and his first invention, a mechanical memory for holding subtotals, which appeared in 1928. Herzstark managed the company in 1930 and began work on his own design for a hand-held calculator. With the Anschluss of 1938, the company was again converted to war production, and produced custom gauges for German tanks. Herzstark, a Jew, was able to avoid arrest until 1943, when he was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp and worked as a technician. He recounts his arrest and internment, and how he completed the design of the CURTA hand-held calculator, a prototype of which was produced in Weimar, Germany, by Rheinmetallwerke at the end of the war. The Prince of Liechtenstein bought the design and the calculator was initially manufactured by the CURTA division of Contina AG of Liechtenstein. It was produced until 1972, when the electronic calculator forced it from the market. This interview is also available in German.
Extent: 67 pages
URL: http://www.cbi.umn.edu/oh/pdf.phtml?id=150
Original Language: German
Time span: Not indicated ... to 1987 (Year of interview)
Speaker: Herzstark, Curt, 1902-
Speaker gender: Male
Speaker date of birth: 26-Jan-1902
Speaker place of birth: Vienna, Austria; Austria; Europe
Speaker race: White
Speaker occupation: Businessman; Inventor; Manufacturer
Age at speaking: 85
Document location: Nendelin, Liechtenstein
Document date: 10-Sep-1987
Interviewer: Tomash, Erwin
Locations discussed: North America; United States
Topics discussed - ASP terms: Computer software; Electric engineering; Engineering; Information technology; North America; Oral history; Software engineering; United States
Topics discussed - Other terms: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
ASP release: 2005-06
Document code: OHI0023972-25515