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Mathematical Treasure: Edmund Stone on Using the Sector

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Edmund Stone was an 18th century self-educated Scottish mathematician. In 1729 he published a revised edition of Samuel Cunn’s A New Treatise of the Construction and Use of the Sector. Cunn (flourished 1714-1722) was a London surveyor and teacher of mathematics. The title page of the book follows.

Source: Oughtred Society, Archive of Collections, Tom Wyman Collection (item #81). Tom Wyman (1927-2014) was the first president of the Oughtred Society. Wyman assembled an extensive collection of early slide rules and books related to them.

A diagram of the sector (on the page facing the title page) advertised the instrument-making business of one of the sponsors and sellers of the book, Thomas Heath.

Source: Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. Erwin Tomash (1921-2012) was a pioneering computer scientist, helping launch the U.S. computer industry from the 1940s onward. During the 1970s he became interested in the history of computer science, and founded the Charles Babbage Society, and its research arm, the Charles Babbage Institute. The Institute, an archive and research center, is housed at the University of Minnesota. Its Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing began with Tomash's 2009 donation to the Institute of much of his own collection of rare books from the history of mathematics and computing. (Source: Jeffrey R. Yost, Computer Industry Pioneer: Erwin Tomash (1921-2012), IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, April-June 2013, 4-7.)

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Edmund Stone on Using the Sector," Convergence (July 2018)