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# History Project 1

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• Published : March 6, 2015

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﻿Fratesi 1

The Abacus
Alexis Fratesi
Professor Hobbs
Liberal Arts Math I
February 23, 2015

Fratesi 2
Alexis Fratesi
Professor Hobbs
Liberal Arts Math I
February 15, 2015

History of the Abacus
The abacus, often called the earliest calculating machine in the world, has a long history. The Abacus is a Latin word from the Greek origin word ‘Abax’, which means calculating table (Dictionary.com, 2015). The evolution of the Abacus is said to be dated back to three separate ages: Ancient Times, Middle Ages, and Modern Times (Bagley, 2003). The abacus was invented nearly 5000 years ago, by the Chinese in 500 BC (Browning, 2009). The original abacuses were stones plates covered in dust, Later this evolved into a slate with groves where rocks and other counters were placed (2012). It was made in a smaller size so it could be held and carried as needed. Through the decades the abacus has transformed into something completely different, it is now a structure with rods that run side to side, allowing the beads to be moved after counting. The original can be known as the first computer used to perform mathematical calculations. The abacus was invented by the Chinese in c3000, but by c500 the abacus had spread and was eventually introduced in Europe (Browning, 2009). Today, the abacus is commonly known to be used as a form of calculation in many different countries. The most common abacus known today has beads that slide on rods. It can be used to count, add, subtract, multiply and Fratesi 3

more (2014). It is split into two basic rows: the top row for the fives and the bottom row for the ones. Abacus was one of the counting devices that was invented to count larger numbers that couldn’t be counted on hands and feet. The Evolution of the Abacus is divided into 3 time periods, Ancient times, Middle age and Modern Age (Bagley, 2003). The Ancient age was one of the longer time periods for the use of the abacus. The Ancient times (300 B.C to 500 A.D) consisted of the Salamis tablet, the Roman Calculi, and Hand-abacus (Bagley, 2003). The Middle age (5 A.D to 1400 A.D) consisted of the Apices, the Coin-Board and the Line-board (Bagley, 2003). There are three forms of the abacus that are commonly used today; Suan-pan (Chinese based), the Soroban (Japanese based) and the Schoty (Russian based) (Bagley, 2003). The existence of the abacus came to be in the Ancient times when people were using with hands and toes to count, add, and subtract (Bagley, 2003). To some people this may not sound like a hard thing to do, but when it came to larger numbers it became extremely difficult for people to learn how to count and do anything related to numbers. For example, when merchants were trading their goods to others it became difficult for them to calculate the cost of the trade (Little). Having the abacus invented by the Chinese, it is no surprise that it is still being used today. The abacus can be used by all ages and it can be purchased on the web for all to use. As stated earlier, it started off as a way for merchants count their products when trading with others (Little).

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Today, many teachers and parents in other countries use it to teach their children and students how to count, multiply, add, subtract, etc. The design of the abacus has drastically changed throughout the decades. The abacus is still made from wood but can also be found to be made out of metal and plastic as well. It is still used as a way to count and add, but it is now used as a mathematical tool to help stimulate the brain. They use it in schools to straighten skills such as concentration, listening, imagination and memory. Even though, math has changed in many ways through the years, abacus is the one mathematical technique that has been around for over five thousand years, and is still continuing to be used and will probably change again with the drastic increase...