Seeking information about petroleum industry pocket calculator.


“I look forward to hearing anything your knowledgeable AOGHS community can tell me about my rather mysterious AC-ME Pocket Calculator.” 

David Rance of Sassenheim, Netherlands, has collected a lot slide rules — analog calculating devices that became obsolete when hand-held electronic calculators gained widespread use in the early 1970s. He preserves among the largest “pocket calculator” collections in the world.

Since many of the devices he collected came from the petroleum industry, Rance emailed the American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS). Would any of AOGHS’ many website visitors have information about a refinery supply company’s slide rule?

Slide rule "pocket calculator" detail from collection of David Rance.

Before computers, the slide rule, a collectible pocket calculator.

Born in England, he worked in the petroleum industry for 25 years before moving to “the main bulb-growing area of the Netherlands.”

Refinery Supply Company

Rance in August 2016 emailed images of his 10-inch wooden slide rule, which has “Refinery Supply Company” and “AC-ME Pocket Calculator” printed on one side.

A longtime academic researcher, his David’s Calculating Sticks website offers historical insights about calculating devices — with details about hundreds of slide rules. His academic investigations have proved challenging, including finding information about the one made for Refinery Supply Company.

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Rance discovered an example of the refinery’s slide rule at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology museum at Cambridge, Massachusetts. The museum described the pocket calculator as “the iconic instrument of the engineering profession. Every significant human-built structure of the past 150 years has involved its use.”

 Rance’s ruler from the Refinery Supply Company in among the more obscure examples. “Sadly, like the one in the MIT collection, it came without any documentation and despite my best efforts, I still know very little about its provenance,” he noted in his email to AOGHS.

Refinery Supply Company old slide rule close-up.

The Refinery Supply Company of Tulsa and Dallas, “appears to have a rich history as a major supplier/reseller,” notes collector David Rance of the Netherlands.

Among the world’s top science and engineering universities, MIT was founded in 1861 — just two years after the first U.S. commercial oil well launched the U.S. petroleum industry.

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The MIT student newspaper The Tech, “the first newspaper published on the web,” provided a colorful account of an 1884 Pennsylvania oilfield fire (see Oilfield Artillery fights Fires).

Orifice Meters

Rance’s ruler was used in the petroleum industry for orifice meters, he noted for AOGHS. “With the slide rule it is possible to calculate gas flows directly from static pressure, differential pressure and orifice coefficient settings.”

The supplier, the Refinery Supply Company of Tulsa (and Dallas), “appears to have a rich history as a major supplier/reseller, notes Rance. “I believe ‘AC-ME’ refers to the aptly named ‘AC-CURATE ME-ASUREMENT PRECISION INSTRUMENTS’ Company, possibly once based in Piqua, Ohio,” he added.

Refinery Supply Company of Tulsa was established in 1923, his research found, but there has been little more information about the company’s slide rule.

“Can the AOGHS help? From your archives or anyone associated with society, can you tell me anything about this AC-ME pocket calculator, the Refinery Supply Company or the AC-CURATE ME-ASUREMENT PRECISION INSTRUMENTS Company?

Adding to the mystery is that the slide rule was made in Germany, Rance noted in his 2016 email to AOGHS. “A more natural choice would have been one of excellent U.S.-based slide rule makers such as Keuffel & Esser Company. So it begs the question, why would a Tulsa-based supplier import such an item?

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“I look forward to hearing anything your knowledgeable AOGHS community can tell me about my rather mysterious AC-ME Pocket Calculator,” concluded Rance, a member of the British Slide Rule Circle (UKSRC) and the Dutch Circle for Historical Calculating Instruments, among other academic groups.

Comment to share any information about David Rance’s Refinery Supply Company slide rule.


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS) preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS annual supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact Copyright © 2023 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Petroleum Objects & Oilfield Artifacts.” Author: Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: Last Updated: December 24, 2023. Original Published Date: August 23, 2016.


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