Samuel Young — Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

The patent model of Young’s calculating device (© National Museum of American History, Washington)

Samuel Young — Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

Who was Samuel Young?

Samuel Young was a man who lived in the mid-1850s and started his life working as a gardener. Young eventually became interested in working on mathematical devices and calculating machines. He went on to invent a calculating device that was also known as the Young calculating machine.

A few years later he invented at least two other practical devices to assist with various business and mathematical functions. 

Quick Facts

Full Name
Samuel Young
Net Worth
Place of Birth
Fields of Expertise
Three mathematical inventions that were patented.

What was His Early Life Like?

Little is known of Samuel Young’s early childhood. According to the US Census for 1850, S. S. Young from Eaton, Ohio was 40 years old and living with his wife. Samuel Young married his wife, Eliza Jane Hardy on February 13, 1834. He had two children, and his occupation was listed in the US Census as a gardener.

By 1860 Young had moved to the nearby town of Washington and his occupation at that time was listed as a horticulturist. By 1864, Young was working in the field of real estate and rental business in Cincinnati, Ohio. At this time he was working with William Ballard, who was considered one of Warren County’s most prosperous and distinguished citizens. Ballard was also a match manufacturer. 

What Was Samuel Young’s Career?

Phase 1

From the available information, Samuel Young’s early career consisted of working as a gardener. Later, he listed his occupation as that of a horticulturist. 

Phase 2

Later in Young’s life, he focused on being an inventor. Samuel Young contributed to the field of science and mathematics by inventing different gadgets and calculating tools. 

What Did Samuel Young Invent? 

Samuel Young is known for inventing and patenting three simple calculating devices in the middle of the 19th century.

The first patent was for a basic calculating machine. It was under US patent No 6602 that was registered in 1849. This was an adding tablet for the addition of figures.

The second patent was for a machine that was for the calculation of interest. This particular patent was No 8323. It was registered on September 2, 1851

The third patent was for an arithmetical proof-rule. This was patent No 21921 and was registered on  October 26, 1858.

Invention 1

The patent model of Young’s calculating device (© National Museum of American History, Washington)

The calculating device that was based on the first patent of Samuel Young was eventually manufactured and became rather popular in the United States in the 1850s. It was reported, although possibly exaggerated, that over 30,000 examples of this had been sold by 1857. The patent model has survived to the present and is kept in the National Museum of American History in Washington. 

There were similar calculating devices such as this one that was popular until the middle of the 20th century. A few examples include devices made by Fowler and Locke.

The following is an excerpt of a sales letter from W. M. Richardson, a sales agent regarding the Young Calculating Machine: 

“I am the agent for the sale of Young’s Patent Adding Tablet a very ingenious machine for adding up columns of figures, to any amount with accuracy and rapidity, without mental labour, they are very generally used by Bankers, Merchants, Storekeepers & Accountants, as evidence of their popularity, over thirty thousand have been sold already. It will be sent by mail on receipt of One dollar, or one dozen for Nine Dollars.

This is the patent drawing of Young’s calculating device.

The National Museum of American History describes the invention as follows:

The wooden device was a simple adder for a frame that held seven strips of wood. Each strip had 19 holes on it. The ten right holes were numbered from 0 to 8. The nine remaining holes were all unnumbered. The wood was colored green. On the sides of each strip, the numbers 1 to 9 were written on the frame. The left part of the strip was covered by an upper piece on the frame.

The following is specific information about the Young calculating machine:

  • Invention Name: Adder
  • Invention Type: Patent Model
  • Date Created: 1849
  • Place made: Eaton, Ohio, United States
  • Physical Description: Wooden rectangular device
  • Measurements and Size: 7 cm x 9.8 cm x 15.6 cm; 9/32 in x 3 27/32 in x 6 5/32 in
  • ID Number: MA.252680
  • Accession Number: 49064
  • Catalog Number: 252680
  • Subject: Mathematics

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Invention 2 

Samuel Young’s second patented invention was a mathematical table called the Young Rule for Calculating Interest. It was a long, rectangular wooden object with five grooves that each held a bar that could slide crosswise. These were made of different types of wood. Two wooden pieces that were flat covered most of the bars that were on the left side. There was a gap between the two wooden pieces.

There was a set of twelve holes, evenly spaced and numbered starting at 11 and going down to 1 on each bar. Holes for 0 were not numbered. Every bar also had an indentation at the top that would hold a piece of paper that slid directly under the top of the machine. Then eleven more unnumbered holes were on the right of each piece of paper. 

The user would then set up a number on the rods that would represent a specific amount of money or a length of time. This would represent an amount of interest or tax.

The following is specific information about the device for calculating interest:

  • Invention Name: Mathematical Table for Calculating Interest
  • Invention Type: Patent Model
  • Date Created: 1851
  • Place made: Eaton, Ohio, United States
  • Physical Description: Long, thin wooden rectangular device
  • Measurements and Size: 8 cm x 35.4 cm x 4.1 cm; 5/16 in x 13 15/16 in x 1 5/8 in
  • ID Number: MA 252683
  • Accession Number: 49064
  • Catalog Number: 252683
  • Subject: Mathematics and Business

Invention 3

The former gardener turned inventor patented his third invention, which was an Arithmetical Proof Rule, on October 26, 1858.

This is the patent for this particular calculating device.

What Was Samuel Young’s Personal Life Like?


Samuel Young was married to Eliza Jane Hardy.


Young and his wife had two children.

Next Up…

Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Samuel Young?

Samuel Young was a gardener and eventually an inventor who patented three separate devices. These included an adding tablet, a device for calculating interest, and a device for the arithmetical proof rule.

What did Samuel Young invent?

Samuel Young invented a calculating device for the addition of figures, a second device for calculating interest, and a third device that was an arithmetical proof rule.

Why did Samuel Young build his calculating device?

It is likely that he built his devices to help make daily business and mathematical calculations easier and less time-consuming.

When was Samuel Young born?

It is assumed that Samuel Young was born in 1810.

When did Samuel Young die?

It’s not known when Young died.

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