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24-Aug-2019 20:25

The Chinese Abacus was an early aid for mathematical computations.

Its only value is that it aids the memory of the human performing the calculation. The earliest known written documentation of the Chinese abacus dates to the 2nd century BC.

I hope to learn more about this as together, we build this gallery. As I do with the other galleries, I wish to get donations of abacus from users from different countries so that we can place a name and history with them. As this gallery is being constructed, one of the best references for the history and use of Abaci is Totten Heffelfinger's website out of Toronto, Canada.

Other references, images and texts are provided Wickipedia and other sources.

After all, the United States national debt is in the trillions which is 10 and only needs 14 digits, counting two decimal points, to display.

A good friend of mine, Jiro Higuchi in Japan, explained: "In Japan sorobans are still being manufactured for education.

If you are a regular visitor to ISRM you will have noticed the other new gallery on 'slide rule calculators' which was inspired by the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the HP-35 electronic slide rule, or scientific calculator.

A skilled abacus operator can work on addition and subtraction problems at the speed of a person equipped with a hand calculator (multiplication and division are slower). In fact, the oldest surviving abacus was used in 300 B. Another possible source of the suanpan is Chinese counting rods, which operated with a decimal system but lacked the concept of zero as a place holder.

The zero was probably introduced to the Chinese in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) when travel in the Indian Ocean and the Middle East would have provided direct contact with India, allowing them to acquire the concept of zero and the decimal point from Indian merchants and mathematicians.

In the early days of hand held calculators, news of suanpan operators beating electronic calculators in arithmetic competitions in both speed and accuracy often appeared in the media.

Early electronic calculators could only handle 8 to 10 significant digits, whereas suanpans can be built to virtually limitless precision.

55-56) Chinese mathematics was in decline as Japanese interests were developing.