• Basheer Ahamed

Types of Abacus with Rare Pictures

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

Introduction to Abacus

The earliest instruments for counting stones once were slender tree branches, and so on. The methods of calculating by tying knots and carving used by many nations are no longer the primitive counting form. The earliest Chinese counting beads discovered are the pottery beads made in the Western Zhou Dynasty more than 3000 years ago.

Abacus is a counting device used, centuries before the advent of the written Arabic numerical method, in different countries. It can perform fundamental mathematical operations such as add, subtract, divide, multiply, and find square roots and cubic roots.

Historians consider that the Chinese invented the Abacus around 500BC mostly during the Ming Dynasty by mathematician Cheng Dawei with beads and strings. According to the historical materials at hand, the book that records the earliest calculation with an abacus named Arithmetic Chronicle written by Xu Yue in the Eastern Han Dynasty more than 2000 years ago.


It says that an abacus has beads on the upper deck and the four beads on the bottom distinguished by different colours. The beads represent numbers such as the upper bead stands for five, while each lower bead stands for one. Be taken as an early form of modern Abacuses in a contemporary shape.

There are different abacus such as

  • Chinese Suanpan

  • Japanese Soroban

  • Russian Abacus

  • Roman Abacus

Word Origin

Abacus Word Origin

The Abacus was named after the Greek word ABAX, which means a board or a flat surface covered with sand. These sand-covered boards contain grooves where the counters (beads) are placed and are used to move the counters along the grooves for counting.

Other Likelihoods

The Abacus could not have come from China. The Mesopotamian(Sumerian Abacus), the Akkadian tribe that had conquered and previously occupied the same territory, and the Egyptians were all believed to use abaci.

There is only a slight difference between these ancient abaci and the Chinese abaci.

  • The Chinese Abacus is made of Wood and Wired beads.

  • The Ancient Abacus is made of Sand and Stone on the carvings.

The Abacus was also used in other early civilizations, including the Greek, Persian, and Roman civilizations.

Some people think kindly of it, saying that it is the Chinese nation's valuable cultural heritage with distinctive national features and should be enhanced, But some people belittle the importance of the Abacus. They have never admitted the significance of Abacus and even advocate that China's accountants bid farewell to abacuses.

Abacus has undergone a series of changes during various periods in various parts of the world, leading to what we call the Modern Abacus.

There are various types of Abacus.

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