History of Abacus

Education News | Dec-18-2020

History of Abacus

Abacus is a Latin word though it has its origins from Greek words abax and abakon, meaning table or tablet. It is one of the mathematics device used to count large numbers. 

History of Abacus

  1. A Greek historian, Herodotus, mentioned that Egyptians were the first to use the abacus. The first abacus was called Salamis Abacus. The Greek discovered it on Salamis Island. 
  2. The Salamis Abacus now, in a museum in Athens, dates back to 300 B.C. It is a piece of white marble that is now into two halves. 
  3. It has five parallel lines, and below that, eleven parallel lines are divided in half by a perpendicular line. 
  4. Romans found the pictures of abacus from the 1st century at an Etruscan cameo, on a Roman pier, and in the Capitoline museum in Rome. It was similar to what Greeks use to have but a little smaller. 
  5. During the Dark Ages, in Europe abacus was reintroduced by Gerbertd'Aurillac. He spent some of his time in Spain earlier and learned about the abacus from Spanish Arabs. 
  6. Arte dell' Abbaco was the first printed book on the abacus in Europe and arithmetic in 1478. 
  7.  Asia had a different approach to this kind of mathematics and calculus. It was more advanced and developed. 
  8. The Chinese started the use of counting boards, a type of abacus, in the early 4th century B.C. The counting board was a wooden plate divided into different sections of numbers. Few historians claim that this is the first decimal numbering system in the world. 
  9. The long and gradual change in the counting system from China led to the birth of the bead abacus somewhere in the 2nd century. The Chinese bead abacus, Suanpan, has a rectangular wooden frame with thin rods dividing it. 
  10. In the late 16th century, Japan adopted the Chinese bead abacus. They called it Soroban, which was a simpler version of the Chinese abacus. 
  11. There were now four beads in the lower part and just one bead in the upper part with around five to six columns. 
  12. Russia is another country that has adopted the bead abacus after Japan and China. The first bead abacus in Russia dates back to 1658. Russians called it RusskieSchoty. Originally based on the Chinese abacus, it is quite different in design. There are horizontal rods in the Schoty. 
  13. After the Russians, American-Indians adopted this method of mathematics in the 1600s.

Today abacus frames are crafted on bamboo wood and are used by students across the world for better solving skills. 


By Muskan Srivastava

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