Herzstark, Curt, 1902-1988Alternative names
Curt Herzstark was born in Vienna, Austria on January 26, 1902. His father, Samuel Jakob Herzstark established, along with a partner, the first calculating machine factory in Vienna, Austria, the Austrian Calculating Machines Manufacturing Company, in 1905-1906. After finishing school, Herzstark began working at his father’s company and then went to work AstraWerke in Germany to gain experience in production of adding machines. After about a year in Germany, Herzstark returned to the family factory in Vienna. He began to manage the factory beginning in 1930.
By 1937, based on requests from factory customers, Herzstark had preliminary plans for a hand held mechanical calculating machine. From 1938-1943, the family factory was contracted to make precision gauges for the German military and were banned from continuing their construction and distribution of calculating machines.
In 1943, Herzstark was arrested and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he worked in the mechanics factory as a technician. While in prison, Herzstark was allowed to begin to design his hand held calculating machine, the CURTA.
After the war, Herzstark began construction on prototypes of the CURTA. He was appointed as technical director of the Contina AG factory in Liechtenstein and worked to produce the CURTA, which was first introduced at a trade fair in 1949. Herzstark left Contina AG in 1952, but the company still produced the CURTA until 1972, when the electronic calculator replaced mechanical calculators. Curt Herzstark died on October 27, 1988.
For a more complete biographical sketch of Curt Herzstark, see a transcript of his oral history interview conducted in 1987 at http://www.cbi.umn.edu/oh/display.phtml?id=82 [English] or http://www.cbi.umn.edu/oh/display.phtml?id=311 [German].
From the guide to the CURTA literature., 1928, 1944-1954, 1986-1989., (University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi])