Ramón Verea

In 1878 Ramón Silvestre Verea García (1833-1899), a Spaniard living in New York, patented a direct-multiplying machine, which proved to be the second patented machine of this type (after the machine of Edmund Barbour), 10 years before the first popular direct-multiplying machine of León Bollée.

Ramón Verea (see biography of Ramón Verea) is a very interesting person. Born in Spain, he lived for 10 years in Cuba and in 1865 settled in New York, working as a journalist in a magazine, agent for inventions and trading with Spanish gold and banknotes, that got him interested in calculation. Verea asserted that he did not make the machine to sell the patent or to put it to use, but simply to show that it could be done and that a Spaniard could invent as well as an American.

On September 10th, 1878, Verea received a U.S. patent No 207918 for his machine. It seems, he manufactured also two prototypes, one of them sent together with the patent application to the US Patent Office, and second, which the same year (1878) was exposed and won a medal of the World Inventions Exhibition in Matanzas, Cuba. The newspaper Scientific American included an article about it. But then the sands closed over it. Verea never tried to market it. He just walked away and never invented anything else. As he said: "I just moved the desire to contribute something to the advancement of science and a little self-esteem. I am a journalist and not a scientist and also what I wanted to show... is already proven."

The prototype of the Verea's machine

The prototype of the Verea's machine, sent to to the Patent Office

The prototype of Verea's machine, which was sent by the inventor to the US Patent Office, together with the application in July, 1878, was kept in the tanks of the headquarters of IBM in White Plains (New York) to be part of the collection begun in 1930 by the founder of IBM—Thomas Watson.

One of the patent drawings of the Verea's machine

One of the patent drawings of the Verea's machine

Verea's calculator was a made of iron and steel machine about 22 kilograms, 14 inches long, 12 wide and 8 high. It was able to add, multiply and divide numbers of nine figures, allowing up to six numbers in the multiplier and fifteen in the product. The multiplication solved through the direct method, based on a mechanism patented by Edmund D. Barbour (see machine of Barbour) in 1872. The basis of his machine was a ten-sided metal cylinder. Each side had a column of holes with ten different diameters. Verea saw how to do the whole multiplication in one stroke of a lever. During a demonstration, the device could solve 698,543,721 x 807,689 in twenty seconds, an amazing speed for the time.