The founder of the company was a bank clerk who tired of calculating lines of figures for hours on end. He became obsessed by the prospect of a machine to do the work, and ruined his health developing it. He received the first patent for an adding machine, but it didn't really work - the final lever pull randomized the process. He threw 50 failed machines through a window as he contemplated his business disaster and finally had an inspiration for a regulator that would make the thing work. Finally they sold, at $425 a piece. Pleased by his success, William Seward Burroughs remained obsessed by the machine and improved it though his health steadily worsened. He and his family profited, but most of the money and the control went to his partner, leaving only the name on the company and respectable but not incredible money for his family. William S. Burroughs II, literary and lifestyle experimenter, was his grandson. A bold writer who saw information as viral and the world as a bizarre, dangerous place, produced texts urging readers to "storm the reality studio" and face the threats his grandfather's technologies had created.
The company went on as a successful calculator maker, selling products to anyone with enough numbers to crunch. They moved into electronic computation in the 1950s, designing computers for the military, but never left its mechanical base behind. It couldn't initially compete with IBM's System 360. It realized the danger it was in and began to compete more strongly in the late 1960s with its 500 family. It never aquired the momentum it needed to compete, and finally merged with two other competitors.This file created with Hypertype 2.2 by Simon St.Laurent