Anton Braun – Complete Biography, History and Inventions

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Anton Braun – Complete Biography, History and Inventions

Black and White Portrait of Anton Braun
Anton Braun was an instrument maker, mathematician, engineer, and mechanic.

Who was Anton Braun?

Anton Braun was an instrument maker, mathematician, engineer, and mechanic. He invented one of the first calculating machines (calculator). 

Early life

Braun was born on April 22, 1686 in Möhringen an der Donau (bei Tuttlingen), a small town on the upper Danube, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He was the first child from Hans Jacobus Braun’s second marriage to Franziska Riestler. Hans Jacobus Braun had 3 daughters and 2 sons from his first marriage. 

Quick Facts

Full Name
Anton Braun
April 22, 1686
April 2, 1728
Net Worth
One son – Anton Braun Jr.
Place of Birth
Möhringen an der Donau (bei Tuttlingen), a small town on the upper Danube, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
Fields of Expertise
University of Vienna
Sundial & 2 different calculating machines

Hans Jacobus Braun also worked as mechanic and watchmaker, so Anton and his younger brother, Johann Georg both learned the basics of mechanics in their parental home. They were both interested in instrument making; however, Johann Georg never reached the technical brilliance of his older brother – Anton. 

Anton Braun had a son in 1708 – Anton Braun Jr. He also became a skillful instrument maker, optician, and watchmaker like his father, and made a copy of one of his calculating machines, still preserved in Technischen Museum, Wien.

Eventually, Braun left his hometown to go to Vienna – to study at the University of Vienna. On April 19, 1712, was designated as “University optician and mathematician” and he married the “Postmaster daughter” Maria Magdalena Stein from Ettlingen.



Soon after his marriage, Braun left Vienna. He established mechanical workshops in Prague and Milan. In the following years, Braun became one of the most prominent instrument makers of his time. He was highly appreciated by the Imperial Engineer and Professor at the University of Vienna—Johann Jakob Marinoni. Braun worked as a surveyor in cadastral surveying of Milan for Marinoni between the years of 1719 to 1722.

Kammeropticus et Mathematicus 

Anton Braun returned to Vienna in 1723 and in 1724 he was appointed for the position of Kammeropticus et Mathematicus at the Austrian court, due to his outstanding precision mechanical and mathematical skills. Three years later, he sat down as a candidate to be the Imperial instrument maker. He won the title against an impressive number of competitors. He presented to the Emperor his advanced calculating machine, which he constructed in 1724 and which was already in use at the imperial court.

Imperial Instrument Maker  

Braun came into favor of the Holy Roman Emperor Karl VI. He was appointed an imperial instrument maker and was given a 12 – diamond chain (value of 500 guilders), occupied with the portrait of the Emperor (kept now in the Museum in Rathaus Möhringen), and a huge sum of money—10,000 guilders. 

The 10,000 guilders were never paid out, however, because of war-related expenditures and financial difficulties of the Viennese Court under Empress Maria Theresia, the daughter of Karl VI. Nevertheless, Braun bequeathed half of his assets to his hometown. 6,000 guilders were used for charity and the construction of a hospital.

What Did Anton Braun do?

Anton Braun is known to have invented one of the first calculating machines which inspired future calculators like Arithmometer.

Circular Sundial 

A circular sundial made by Anton Braun in 1719 is kept now in the collection of Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

The First Calculating Machine (Calculator)

In 1727 – Braun created the first calculating machine. It was almost 40cm in diameter and over 20cm tall. The device was beautiful and looked like a renaissance table clock. It was a cylinder, finely decorated, and made of gold, steel, silver, and brass. This machine was based on the pin-wheel that was invented by Leibniz and Poleni. The machine has six circular settings arranged in a circle at the top. It has nine sliders (for numbers 1-9) that move their pins outwards on the pin-wheels. When you turn the crank it adds the entered number to the result mechanism (12-digits with complimentary numbers shown), the result is shown in the windows along with the cover. The calculation machine has a setting mechanism that can be rotated for the result mechanism so that both multiplication and division is possible. The machine also featured a single-digit revolution counter.

The Second Calculating Machine (Calculator)

Anton Braun created a second calculating machine. It’s much smaller than the first machine it’s round, has a crank in the middle, concentrically arranged numerical windows, and is beautifully decorated. The calculating mechanism is almost identical to Leupold’s machine – it is based on a ratchet wheel. This machine began in the workshop of Braun, but after his death in 1728 it was finished by his son and the famous french mechanic Phillippe Vayringe in 1736. They were hired by the emperor to fix the machines kept in his collection. There is only one surviving example of the machine, and it is in the exhibition of Deutsches Museum, Munich.

The second calculating machine is commonly named the Leupold-Braun-Vayringe machine. This is because the idea of the calculating mechanism was proposed by Leupold, the construction was by Braun, and the actual manufacturing was made by Vayringe. 

The machine had a single central adapting segment that allowed the number of special parts to be reduced. Below the setting is a set over vertical cylinders with nine rods at different lengths rising to the top. Although the machine did not function properly in every aspect, the idea of a central adapting segment was innovative. It was used extensively for several mechanical calculators 200 years later, for example, the Arithmometer. The Arithmometer is an early calculating machine, built in 1820 by Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar of France.

Тhe collection of Deutsches Museum, Munich (the world’s largest museum of science and technology), contains not only the original of Leupold-Braun-Vayringe machine, but also a very beautiful modern replica with a transparent glass lid. 

Anton Braun: Marriage, Children, and Personal Life

Net Worth



Anton Braun married his wife Maria Magdalena in 1712.


Anton Braun had a son, Anton Braun Jr. 


Anton Braun died young. He was only 41 years old due to long-running lung disease. He died in Vienna on April 2, 1728. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What did Anton Braun invent?

Anton Braun invented a sundial and 2 different calculating machines

When did Anton Braun die?

Anton Braun died on April 2, 1728

How did Anton Braun die?

He died of lung disease

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