Vintage British Calculators


Busicom / Broughtons

Busicom Business Machines
Broughtons of Bristol

After the failure of Busicom of Japan in 1974, Broughton & Co. bought the trade name Busicom for the UK from the Japanese, and started to use the name Busicom Business Machines. Calculators from various manufacturers were re-badged with the Busicom name.

See below for a more detailed history.

This section features Busicom Business Machines vintage calculators that were distributed by Broughtons of Bristol. On the parent Vintage Calculators site wee the page on Busicom and the page on the early Busicom hand-held calculators, the Busicom LE-120A "handy" and the Busicom LE-100A "handy".
Also, see the article "Busicom of Japan and Broughtons of Bristol: Pioneering calculator company and the company which carries on the name" in the Collecting Calculators section of the VIntage Calculators site

Known Broughton's models:

Click on a picture for more details and more, bigger, pictures.

Nippon Calculator / Busicom HL-21

Nippon Calculator  HL-21
Busicom 120DA
Busicom Beaver 12
Busicom Colex 122B
Busicom 802

Busicom Colex 812-SL

Busicom Colex 812-SL

Short History of
Broughtons of Bristol &
Busicom Business Machines

The following is based on information kindly supplied by Peter Broughton  -

Broughton and Co. (Bristol) Ltd. ("Broughtons of Bristol") was incorporated in 1950 by Mr. A.A.R. Broughton. The first offices were on St. Michael's Hill Bristol, shortly moving to No 1. Berkley Square, then to Priory Road Clifton, Bristol. The company's principle activities are the sale, supply and maintenance of office/business machines.

For many years after its founding the company was the sole importer and distributor of most of the main East German manufactured office machines. The products covered being typewriters, mechanical calculators, book-keeping and invoicing machines, under the brand names Rheinmetal, Supermetal, Soentron and Mercedes. These products were purchased through barter trade.

It was during this formative period that a strong market was developed in the educational field, in particular the sales and marketing of Rotary/Barrel calculators used for the teaching and reinforcing of basic mathematics across all levels of academic strata.

The machines sold were a Czechoslovakia calculator under the brand name of Triumphator, a Spanish machine Minerva, and a Chinese machine branded the Flying Fish. Very quickly the Spanish machine became the main seller, low cost being the reason.

At this time the company was dealt a major blow by the Spanish manufacturer breaking contracts and supplying the whole of the production of the calculator  to Olympia of West Germany.

Fate now played its hand. A travel agent friend who had just come back from Japan had a magazine in Japanese. In the magazine was a picture of the Nippon HL-21 hand calculator, manufactured by the Japanese Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation. Cutting a long story short, the company started to import this product with great success.

The Sumlock Anita (the very first electronic calculator) was now being produced and despite the high cost was hitting the traditional market very hard. It was at this time that Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation produced its first copy of the Italian IME electronic calculator. The first to use transistors and ferrite core memory.

From then the company grew strongly. The  HL-21 hand calculator achieved the largest single order in the U.K., being 500 units in one go to Fife Regional Council.

With its venture into electronics Nippon Calculating Machine Corp changed its name to Business Computer Corporation, known as Busicom Corp . In 1968 a joint venture company was set up in the U.S.A. between Broughton & Company and Busicom Japan to market the now very successful and profitable HL-21 hand calculator into the U.S.A. educational market.

There now followed five remarkable years for all concerned. Busicom produced a range of calculators leading up to the development of the world's  first microprocessor with Intel Corp, the Intel 4004, and its first use in a machine of any sort, the Busicom 141-PF calculator.

Next came the very first single chip calculator developed by Busicom in conjunction with Mostek U.S.A. [Busicom Junior, also sold as the NCR 18-16]. This was quickly followed by the very first use of Liquid Crystal from R.C.A. Corporation U.S.A. for a calculator display and development of the electronics to run the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). At this time the packaging of the LCD was not up to scratch and although the machine worked it was not sold.

During this exciting period of time the U.K. and U.S.A. companies both prospered. The very first personal computers were beginning to be seen, but a recession was now hitting Japan and during 1974 Busicom in Japan became the first major Japanese company in the calculator industry to fail.

This failure very badly hit both the U.S. and British operations of Broughton. The U.S. company having been highly successful suddenly found itself without any product, though the UK company had already been purchasing product on a short term basis from Hong Kong. It was at this time that the companies rationalised and looked for new product from more than one source.

After the failure of Busicom Japan, Broughton & Co bought the trade name Busicom for the UK from the Japanese, and started to use the name Busicom Business Machines. Calculators from various manufacturers were re-badged with the Busicom name.

In 1975 Broughtons was approached by Y. Nakano, a Japanese who had worked for Busicom USA on the west coast, offering computer supplies. They asked if he had any good calculators ?  He had, and from now on they bought very high quality calculators from his company Nasco Corp. The calculators were made to their specification by Towa Corp and Shinwa Digital. Now for quite a period of time they enjoyed a steady profitable growth.

In 1979 Broughtons started to sell cash registers, calculators in cash register housing. Because of the hard lesson of Busicom (all eggs in one basket) it was decided to source products from more than one supplier. The diversification of suppliers led them to buying calculators from Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, USA and now mainland China.

The company, now over 50 years old, specialises in supplying cash registers customised to special requirements to various countries. However, it has also expanded into supplying mail-order companies and large distributors with either Busicom/Bistec product or branded to the customer's requirements. For example, it has supplied all of W.H.Smith's Niceday brand calculators, Lloyds Bank, National Westminster Bank, H.M.S.O. (the British government printing house), all of the British Ministry of Defence's calculators, plus many more major accounts. It has recently moved to Whitchurch, near Bristol, England.

Vintage British Calculators

Text & photographs copyright, except where stated otherwise, © Nigel Tout 2000-2024.