Remember This? Protractor & Compass

Cool tools for school, useful for math class and art class too.

The protractor was first used by mariners to create or read maps and navigational charts as early as the 13th Century. Records are unclear as to who actually devised the first protractor, but it’s possible that ancient Egyptian architects used a similar device to measure and create angles.

Over the centuries, the protractor has been crafted from wood, ivory, brass, steel and plastic. Variations range from a semi-circle design to a full circle; in 1925 the Hart Combination design combined the protractor, ruler, and square into one tool.

Generally, the protractor only has measurement lines on one side, so users may have to flip it over to read it correctly; in 2009 a British math teacher designed a protractor that could be read from either side, marketed as The Angler.

The compass has been attributed to the ancient Romans, but it was astrometer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) that promoted its multiple uses and marketed it to his mathematics students. 

In 1597, he devised his own design while teaching in Padua, Italy. He then published “Le Operazioni del Compasso Geometrico e Militare,” or “The Operation of the Geometric and Military Compass,” in 1606, which included the compass tool.

Early compasses used two needle points, so circle shapes were inscribed, rather than drawn. The attachment for a pencil was devised in the last century. Two-needle compasses are still marketed, primarily for measuring.

Both the protractor and compass shown here are inscribed as being products of the Empire Pencil Co. for use by school students. The protractor was made in Hong Kong and dates to the late 1960’s.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Remember This? Gates Ol’ Kentuck Barbecue

    February 24th, 2021
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Countless barbeque restaurants dot the neighborhoods in and around Kansas City today, but during the early years […]


    Lincoln Electric Park, a delight to the city’s Negro population

    February 24th, 2021
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News As part of our Black History Month, we revisit a set of images we ran in […]


    Paseo YMCA plays major role in Black History

    February 17th, 2021
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher This week, as part of our ongoing Black History Month series, we spotlight the Paseo YMCA located […]


    Remember This? Ragtime two-step

    February 17th, 2021
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor More than 70 years after its composition, a Ragtime two step became a chart-topping recording. “The Entertainer” […]


    Remember This? I AM LOVED pin-back buttons

    February 10th, 2021
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor It’s a small item with a big message that’s been translated into multiple languages and sent to […]


    Family Flower business a staple of Northeast Community

    February 10th, 2021
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher Rose Marie Serrone opened her flower and gift shop in a single story, Art Deco-style building in […]


    Remember This? The electric coffee percolator

    February 3rd, 2021
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Need coffee for a crowd? Perk up your party with a Party Percolator that brews dozens of […]


    Quindaro town-site, an important portal on the Underground Railroad

    February 3rd, 2021
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher During Black History Month, our Historic Postcard column will spotlight locations and people important to Black History […]


  • State of the art zoo for 1909

    January 27th, 2021
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher This circa 1914 hand colored postcard published by the Southwest News company of Kansas City, Missouri shows […]


    Remember This? Gremlins Cereal

    January 27th, 2021
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Do you have any Gremlins in your kitchen cupboard? From the shoebox to the cereal box, this […]


    Remember this? Bathroom radios

    January 20th, 2021
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor It’s a radio – it’s a toilet paper holder – it’s both! Combining two practical items into […]


    Flying High in Kansas City

    January 20th, 2021
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher This week, in theme with our Remember This column on a novelty transistor radio, we’re featuring another […]


    Faultless Starch Reading Library

    January 13th, 2021
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher This week’s postcard is a bit of a departure from the penny postcard we normally profile in […]


    Remember this? Trading stamps

    January 13th, 2021
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Lick ’em, stick ’em, save ’em and trade ’em for quality merchandise – it was like getting […]


    Remember This: Desk calendars

    January 6th, 2021
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Though the style may change, perpetual calendars never go completely out-of-date. Often designed for desk-top display, early […]


    New year, new calendar

    January 6th, 2021
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher This week we continue our novelty postcard series with a couple of postcards that follow our “Remember […]


  • Northeast Newscast


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Postcard


  • Remember This?


  • retorts illustrated by bryan stalder


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.