Richard A. (Dick) Rose Collection
Richard A. (Dick) Rose is known as one of the preeminent dealers of slide rules and vintage drafting equipment in the United States, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rose began buying, collecting, and selling slide rules in the 1990s while working as a corporate consultant. His side business grew in scale and scope—incorporating mechanical calculators, drafting tools, planimeters, and other related instruments—and was formally established as Rose Vintage Instruments.
The items in the MIT Museum Rose Collection were acquired by Rose over the course of twenty years and donated in 2022. The Rose family, with the expert assistance of James Bready and Robert DeCesarus of the Oughtred Society, selected a unique set of 88 rules for donation to the MIT Museum. These are rare items mainly manufactured by international makers which compliment the MIT Museum’s K&E Company Collection. The MIT Museum slide rule collection is one of most significant publicly accessible collections of its kind in the world. In addition to slide rules, the Rose Collection contains 96 drafting sets and related items, more than doubling the MIT Museum’s holdings in this area. A small reference collection of 73 books, catalogs, pamphlets, and instruction manuals supports research on the collection. A full listing of the supplemental reference material can be found here.
For the first eighty years of MIT’s history, at least one drafting class was required of all first-year students, regardless of their course of study. By this time, in the 1940s, the slide rule was becoming a universal symbol for the engineering profession and was an essential item for most students, declining in popularity only with the invention of the pocket calculator in the 1970s. Taken together, the slide rules and drafting sets in the Rose collection represent a group of “tools of the trade” that would have been familiar to more than a century’s worth of MIT students.