1892 – Start of the calculator manufacture

In 1892, “Grimme, Natalis & Co” started to produce calculators, in addition to the existing range of products. Albert Natalis had received an offer to manufacture and distribute the calculator developed by Willgodt T. Odhner in St. Petersburg, but a large sum had to be invested in licenses and production tools.

Calculators were little known at this point in time. In Glashütte in Saxony, Arthur Burkhardt (1857-1919), in his “First German calculator factory”, built stepped drum machines, that had been developed from the machines of Charles-Xavier Thomas (1785-1870).

The BRUNSVIGA was in any case a lighter and cheaper alternative to Burkhardt’s ARITHMOMETER, of which until 1892, about 500 machines had been produced.

Since the decision to build calculators in retrospect had such an enormous influence on the company history, center stage in the establishment myth of “GNC” are not the actual founders of the firm, Albert Natalis and Carl Grimme. In the corporate historiography, the founding of the firm was instead equated with the start of calculator manufacturing in 1892. As the most important character emerges engineer and technical director Franz Trinks, who not only convinced the partners Albert and Hugo Natalis, but also the board of directors to make this investment.

The internal company record shows over and over again how he persevered, against negative advice from science, economics, technical sources and management, who all strongly discouraged the taking up of calculator manufacture. Trinks countered e.g. by mentioning that the machine had already won a prize at an exposition in St. Petersburg, and thus he managed to obtain that in the same year already, production of the BRUNSVIGA could begin.

It was also Trinks who presented the new product at the 33rd general assembly of the VDI in Hannover, which secured an initial number of orders.

The start of calculator manufacturing also appears in the company's annual report. Already in the report of 1891, the calculator is especially emphasized:

“Always trying to bring into the company portfolio those machines and apparatuses that will find, with sufficient profit margin, a general use, at the year’s end, among other things, we have obtained the manufacturing and distribution rights for a calculator, which can be sold for use in the widest circles for a relatively cheap price, and to all appearances will be a significant product for us, all the more as we have been assured that in its simplicity and ease of use, it is without competition.”



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