Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at some of the fascinating objects associated with Thomson.
Today’s object of choice is this mechanical calculating machine, manufactured by Swedish company, Facit. The calculator was used in ‘Room 70’, Thomson’s intelligence testing unit.
‘Room 70’ was described by one former employee as quiet, happy, and industrious – perhaps with the rattle of this calculator occasionally breaking the silence!
The machine was operated by hand, and was the first Facit keyboard-set pinwheel calculator, produced between 1932-1939. It is part of Albert E G Pilliner’s collection.
Pilliner was a chemist by trade – throughout the Second World War he worked for a government research facility using his statistical knowledge and experience to evaluate the effectiveness of explosives. It was here Pilliner met William Emmett, who worked closely with Thomson.
After the war, Pilliner taught Chemistry and Physics, taking up a post as lecturer at Moray House College of Education. Following Thomson’s retirement in 1951, Pilliner and his colleagues continued his work, with Pilliner taking charge of the unit, which formally became the Godfrey Thomson Unit in 1965.
By the 1970s, much of Pilliner’s time was taken up working as a consultant to the British Council and UNESCO amongst others, conducting research into the examination systems of countries including Mauritius, Pakistan, and Malaysia. His collection contains many of the reports he produced throughout this period. He died in 2003.
With thanks to Emma Smith for providing the photographs