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redefined: the abacus

photo by: tsc_traveler The abacus is typically Asian but references from ancient Rome, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Persia, India, Russia, Korea—even Native Americans—exist.

Trade between the two regions may explain the similarity of the Roman and Chinese versions— or it may be pure coincidence that both derived from counting the five fingers on one’s hand— but trade with India and the Middle East in the 1st century A.D. changed everything when the concept of a zero and a decimal point spread.

Replaced by modern calculators performing complex equations, the abacus not only remains a graphic icon—it continues to be manufactured and used to teach numerical systems and basic math.

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