Hot Footer

In 1976, with my brand-new bachelors degree hanging on the wall of my bedroom [I wanted to put it in the bathroom—KD], I started work at a Big Eight CPA firm. I had spent the previous four years preparing customs tax returns and had lots of experience with desktop calculators. Nonetheless, I was unprepared for the twenty-page computer report whose total I had to prove.

I borrowed an adding machine from the client and set to work. A day later I had an impossibly long tape showing the same total as the report. I marked it with an f (for footed [accountant-speak for checked and proved—KD]) on the report and went to the next task.

I discovered that I was constitutionally incapable of correctly adding more than twenty numbers on the first try. It was my policy to run two tapes and compare them. I needed a better way.

I wrote Hot Footer in 2014 and have been using it ever since. Hot Footer is that same calculator as in 1976 without the mechanical clack but with a tape I can copy and paste.

This last month it occurred to me that I ought to share Hot Footer; hence the website with a download link. Hot Footer is written in Java, and therefore you must have installed the Java run-time engine (JRE). You can find it at Click on JRE for Consumers.

For those whose experience is with algebraic calculators, Hot Footer will take some time to get used to, but if you routinely add long columns, it will be worth the effort.

Multiplication and division work as with any algebraic device. Enter a number, an operator, and another number, and hit equals. Hot Footer puts all that on the tape and produces a total:

For addition and subtraction, enter the number followed by its sign. Hot Footer places that entry on the tape, black for positive and red for negative. Once the final entry has been made, equals (or the enter key) causes Hot Footer to print the total.

My fingers know this routine. Someone long ago introduced me to the little bump on the five, a locator bump just like the bumps on the F and J keys. Don’t look; feel for the button on the ten-key pad to orient your fingers on the 4, 5, and 6. I’m so used to the rhythm—number, operator, number, operator—that hear the adding machine clack just as it did in the 70s. .

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