Who was James Appleby?

James Appleby was among the early inventors who developed the Calculating incredible machine to aid in money calculation. He borrowed the idea of the Abacus and developed his reliable but straightforward device. 

Appleby’s Accountant Machine (Courtesy of Mr. Walter Szrek)

Early Life

James Ramsey Cuthbert Appleby was born on 2 January 1807 in Shaftesbury, Dorset. He was a child of George (1767-1841) and Elizabeth Appleby. He spent all his life in Shaftesbury, working as a linsey maker and hosier and later as a parish clerk. James Appleby died in 1891 in Shaftesbury.


Linsey Maker and Hosier

James worked as a linsey maker and later followed his father’s steps to becoming a Hosier. No record shows whether Appleby started as a Linsey maker or developed his invention first. However, we believed this was one of his starting careers before creating a perfect calculating machine.

Parish Clerk

James Appleby later became a clerk at St. James’ Church. He was responsible for all the parish records and accounts. His early experience as a Hosier had a significant impact on his new career as a clerk. His role also opened his mind to creating an effective calculating device to produce error-free results. 

What did James Appleby Invent?

Accountant Machine by RC Appleby

James Appleby invented the money-calculating machine. The device is labeled: “Accountant Machine by RC Appleby, Saint James, Shaftesbury, Dorset, 1856”. A stylus is present in a fitted compartment.

The outer material was made of wood and measured 37×10.5×4. The device had a numbered metallic frame, which covered the beads held by a beam. It was easily portable and durable. James’ accountant machine was an early invention that managed to survive to our time. 

James Appleby’s Accountant Machine

The calculation was done by counting the value of the beads. Each bead had a different figure; therefore, an accountant could quickly perform complex mathematics by shifting high-valued beads. 

James Appleby: Marriage, Divorce, Children, and Personal Life

Net worth

Nothing is known about James’ net worth.


James Appleby was never married. 


James did not have any children. 


James Appleby died in 1891 in Shaftesbury.

Personal Life

Nothing is known about James’ personal life.

James Appleby Published Works and Books

James did not publish any work or write a book. 

James Appleby – Complete Biography, History, and Inventions FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Who was James Appleby?

He was the man behind the invention of a tremendous calculating device to help in accounting.

What did James Appleby invent?

He invented the accountant machine.

How did James Appleby invent his "Accountant Machine?"

James’ invention was based on the early ideas of an Abacus. He created a similar device to aid in money calculations.

When was James Appleby born?

James was born on 2 January 1807.

When did James Appleby die?

He died in 1891 in Shaftesbury.

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