William Burroughs

William Burroughs
Auburn, NY, USA
Death date
Associated organizations
American Arithmometer Company
Fields of study


Inventor-entrepreneur William Seward Burroughs was born 28 January 1855 in Auburn, New York. Having to support himself from the age of 15, he was employed at various jobs and also worked on his own inventions. His experience as a bank clerk made clear to him the need for calculating aids, so he developed a mechanical adding machine. What distinguished it from other adding machines, such as the one developed at about the same time by Dorr E. Felt, was that it printed the numbers added and the total. In 1885 Burroughs formed the American Arithmometer Company, but his first machines proved impractical. In 1892 he completed an improved model, and the company finally achieved success and was growing rapidly at the time of Burroughs' death on 15 September 1898. In 1905 the company was renamed the Burroughs Adding Machine Company. It expanded its product line, in 1908 offering 58 different machines. As with the cash register, electrification of the machines increased their speed, functionality, and ease of use. Burroughs Adding Machine Company, later Burroughs Corporation, became one of the leading suppliers of office equipment.