Slide rules are a field of collecting in their own right, read the article Great vintage collection : slide rules, for general information on this calculation aid. In this article I will be looking into the quality round slide rules made in the Netherlands by ALRO in the city of The Hague between 1931 – 1959.
History of the ALRO Company – The Hague
In 1931 the Company “Ir. C.J. Dussel & W. Pasveer” is officially founded in The Hague ( adress: Wildhoeflaan 21) by the gentleman Dussel and Pasveer, lending their name to the company, which was very appropriate since these men spend the next 4 years developing their take on the circular slide rule. They also start producing their first version of their invention to get their design just right. Below is shown what their slide rules are made of in different positions. The decal in opposite to the slide rule, adds additional usage to the slide rule itself, scales and information.
In the year 1936 the gentlemen apply for patents in 6 countries for their special construction of discs in a metal housing. Unfortunately mr. Pasveer dies and will not see the company flourish. The patents applied for are awarded in the years 1936 – 1938. They simultaneously started to produce the “ALRO slide rule” so there are versions with and without patents, or reading “Further patents pending”, as shown below.
In 1938 mr. Dussel founded, together with mr. Jelier, a new company named “ALRO Maatschappij tot Exploitatie van Octrooien N.V.” also based in The Hague (Balistraat 81). This company produces the Alro circular slide rule as invented earlier, yet in the years up to 1960 they produce many variations of the 13 cm ( 5 inch) slide rule in metal case as shown above, as well as many other sizes and slightly changed constructions as will be shown later on. In the 1960’s ALRO focusses more and more on producing plastic information sliders and calculators rather then mathematical slide rules. ALRO stays in business to 1988.
Some of their other productions are shown below. There is small circular slide rule for the Muiderkring (the Dutch elektronica-liniaal), as well as a Military slide rule produced for the Dutch army. Special slide rules were also produced for Philips and the PTT (former Dutch Telecommunications). On the right is one of there 1960’s slider cards. ALRO outsourced most of the design and production if plastic parts to other companies but did the assembly in house.
The 13cm – 5″ circular slide rules in metal case
From 1938 – 1960 the backbone for the ALRO slide rule manufacturer excited of high of the production of their high quality circular slide rules in metal cases which they held all the European patents for. The case was made of aluminum to reduce weight. Only in the years of the second world war they were obliged to use more heavy materials for their case. These can be identified not only by their weight but also by a small finger groove in the front to make an easier opening possible.