The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the MAAS website contains a range of Indigenous Cultural Material. This includes artworks, artifacts, images and recordings of people who may have passed away, and other objects which may be culturally sensitive.
B1133 Cylindrical slide rule, metal/ paper / wood, designed by Edwin Thacher, New York, United States of America, 1897-1907. Click to enlarge.

Thacher cylindrical slide rule

Made by Thacher, Edwin in New York, New York state, United States, North and Central America, 1871.

This is a very accurate desk-top slide rule of a type used to perform calculations between 1881 and the 1960s, when electronic calculators became available. Slide rules are analog devices that the user manipulates to add and subtract the logarithms of the numbers involved in a calculation.

The first cylindrical slide rule, with extra long logarithmic scales to provide greater accuracy, was introduced by Irishman George Fuller in 1879. Edwin Thacher’s 1881 design set new standards in accuracy by...


Object No.


Object Statement

Cylindrical slide rule, metal/ paper / wood, designed by Edwin Thacher, New York, United States of America, 1897-1907

Physical Description

'Thacher's calculating instrument' is a cylindrical slide rule that can be used to calculate results by adding and subtracting logarithms. The machine consists of a cylinder with wooden handles at either end. The cylinder has been covered in glossy paper that is printed with log scales; it rotates inside a series of twenty brass bars that are also covered with gloss paper printed with log scales. Along the front of the cylinder there is a brass bar to which a sliding holder for a magnifying glass is fixed. The machine is mounted on a rectangular wooden base that has a label printed with instructions for use fixed to it.


Text on the instruction label reads in part 'THACHER'S / CALCULATING INSTRUMENT / DIRECTIONS AND RULES FOR / OPERATING'.



235 mm


570 mm


143 mm



This improved slide rule was patented by Edwin Thacher of Pittsburg in 1881. It was made in New York, USA by Keuffel and Esser between 1897 and 1907.



The slide rule was probably used at the NSW Department of Public Works, which donated it to the museum in 1950.


Credit Line

Gift of the Department of Public Works, 1950

Acquisition Date

10 October 1950

Cite this Object


Thacher cylindrical slide rule 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 October 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Thacher cylindrical slide rule |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 October 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Know more about this object?


Have a question about this object?