What’s going on?


The Burroughs Registering Accountant is the adding machine in the header shot and billed as the most reliable in the world, by Burroughs of course.
Walter Olcutt’s winning machine.

This is slightly off-skew of the text.
Read more: 1937, January 29 – The Great Adding Machine Contest

The beaming winner in this shot is  naturally captivating. Who was he? His name is Walter Offutt, though no more  about him is mentioned.  We must use our imagination suppplied by our chart to figure out there rest. 

As the American Institute of Banking sponsored the contest, Walter must have been a bookkeeper for a bank. 

That makes sense as the idea behind the competition was finding the not only the fastest but most accurate operator who participated that frosty night in Washington D.C.

The machine I am told, by Frederico Alves, jr., is a Burroughs’s Arithematic, and as there are no cords, this is a manual version.  It cost about $300.00 at the time. The electric was $75.00 more.

The contest details

I picked 7:30 PM because I figured it started. The match began after work, which was typically 4:30-5:00 PM and then ran for about 2 hours so everyone could go home and get ready for the next days’s work.

As this is in the era of pre-television, most people in cities went to bed by 9:30 pm; in the countryside about an hour earlier. Those estimates give the ascendant of 05 Virgo 18 or the Sabian symbol of “people’s voice and the smiles of onlookers; a merry-go-round with noise and joyousness.”

The keyword is Verification, and that was definitely the theme of the evening’s competition, checking and timing the operators.

Positively. Marc Jones writes it suggests a fearlessness of plunging into the activity, I had not thought about that part but that makes sense, as some amount of stage-fright had to have happened for many of the contestants.

It gets the warning of “endless repetition of tasks.” That also makes sense as during the evening there must have been several nerve-wracking rounds of longer and longer tallies, before they announced the winner.

Chart Notes

and now the Chart

Saturn is nearby and also exalted, emphasizing the accuracy issue. Overall, the winner had to enjoy the sound of the keys and tactile feedback they received; one won one just one point, it was a total package, and true the clacking sound of hitting the right numbers was instant feedback, just like typists who without looking at the keyboard know by clicking they hit the wrong key.

Sound of course is allied with the water elements, and it well known Pisces is the sign being mute in the group — No talking please! The only noise was tens of machine clanging out their sums.

Now the problems. Uranus is in Taurus where it is in its fall, obviously working with strange or unknown equipment and that is sextile newly discovered Pluto in Cancer the stage fright factor.

Overall though, the chart is one big Grand Sextile, so the contestants really had to be at home with their machine and nonplused by the event — it was a walk in the park for them.


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