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Electronic Calculator and the Abacus

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The Electronic Calculator

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The Electronic Calculator

The electronic calculators that we see today might be the ones at the zenith of its development. The calculators when they were invented used mechanical means to calculate and had the size of today’s desktop computers.

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Their technology could not be said to be simple but they used mechanical means to calculate and in a way was similar to the traditional abacus. They used the principles of abacus for layout of numbers and the counting as such, only thing was that their structure and the interface greatly differed from an abacus.

One of such mechanical calculator was framed in 1914 and later in the next two decades saw very significant changes in the technologies used in the electronic calculator. Like a supernatural transition the mechanical calculators changed its shape and improved the functions. It is a fact that today we cannot do a thing without the calculator; so let us have a look into the facts that made this a reality.

The first mechanical calculators were mechanical desktop devices which were replaced by electromechanical desktop calculators, and then by electronic devices using first thermo ionic valves, then transistors, then hard-wired integrated circuit logic.

Today, most calculators are handheld microelectronic devices. It is true that the electronic calculator can compute a variety of complex scientific calculations. But where the addition and subtraction are concerned, the abacus possesses an indisputable advantage over the calculating machine.

Its advantages in the fields of multiplication and division however are in a debatable stage. It is mainly because nobody uses the abacus for calculations today. So we can say that the art of using an abacus is getting extinct. Today the abacus is restrained to nurseries and lower level classes where it is more like an amusement article than a calculating device.


In the long time past, mechanical computing aids such as abaci, comptometers, Napier's bones, books of mathematical tables, slide rules, or mechanical adding machines were used for numeric work. . This semi-manual process of calculation was tedious and error-prone. Once man learned to master the universe and develop the technology to his favor; we saw the development of a number of aids that could ease our day to day work. The humans developed electronic calculators and computers.

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Today you can see calculators and other calculating aids in mobile phones to electronic watches. Unlike the traditional abacus, they are mere electronic components and are prone to error and component failures. Even though the abacus is not so popular for the counting purpose as such there are many parts in the world like Japan and rural China where people still count on a very old and ancient abacus. They know that it will not give up!

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