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Why was the abacus invented?


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Answered 2014-08-02 12:16:10

It is difficult to imagine counting without numbers, but there was a time when written numbers did not exist.

The earliest counting device was the human hand and its fingers.

Then, as larger quantities (larger than ten human-fingers could represent) were counted, various natural items like pebbles and twigs were used to help count.

Merchants who traded goods not only needed a way to count goods they bought and sold, but also to calculate the cost of those goods. Until numbers were invented, counting devices were used to make everyday calculations. The abacus is one of many counting devices invented to help count large numbers.

The more affluent people, could afford small wooden tables having raised borders that were filled with sand (usually coloured blue or green).

A benefit of these counting boards on tables, was that they could be moved without disturbing the calculation- the table could be picked up and carried indoors.

With the need for portable devices, wooden boards with grooves carved into the surface were then created and wooden markers (small discs) were used as place-holders. The wooden boards then gave way to even more more durable materials like marble and metal (bronze) used with stone or metal markers.

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