In the one and half year, that I collect mechanical calculators now, I became a growing fascination for the Curta, the smallest mechanical pocket calculator ever build. Reading about the internals of the machine (nickname pepper mill) and the personal history of the designer, mr Curt Herzstark, lead to one conclusion: My collection needed very badly a Curta.

History Curt Herzstark.

Mr. Curt Herzstark is in Mechanical Calculator History an icon. His product the Curta is the only pocket calculator. No competition came even close.
He is born in Vienna Austria. His mother was Catholic his father Jewish. He first worked in his father (Samuel Jacob Herzstark) factory, where calculators were made (Austria) and Astra machines were upgraded. After a few years he moved to Germany and worked for Astra, Rheinmetall, in Chemnitz and Sömmerda (Erfurt) and Dresden. And continuing designing on his pocket calculator idea.
In 1943 he was taken into custody in concentration camp Buchenwald (near Weimar). First he was forced to make parts for the german missiles industry. Ironically enough he was asked, after a few month, by the head of his department, Mr. Munich, to continue his pocked calculator design. By success it would be a present for Hitler and he was promised to be an Aryan.
Emediatly after WW2 he became technical director of Rheinmetall Sömmerda, but after a year he went to the west to avoid the Russian occupation. He moved to Liechtenstein. In Liechtenstein he gave the production of the Curta's to the newly formed company Cortina AG, Mauren.
The production has stopped in 1970, after the very successfully era of 80.000 Curta-1 and 60.000 Curta-2's. The price was $150 in the sixties. Converted the price of the Curta-1 to the current rates the price would be in the 1000 Euro range.

External links:
Photo of Mr. Herzstark is original located on this site.

Mr. Curt Herzstark 1902 -1988
A perfect Curta simulation bij Michel L Hilton on You Tube below.
mr. Clifford Stoll, a collector of calculating things him self, tells on his marvelous way, the story of this first pocket calculator, the Curta: "All gears, no batteries no plastic. Designed in the very worst places western civilization has ever seen".