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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hokudai/Cast 91: What is an Abacus?

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Wow, what is an abacus? The first ones date from about 4,000 years ago in what is now Iraq. Then, about 2600 years ago an abacus appeared in what is now Iran. This is the abacus that spread across the globe, ending up in the Roman empire, China, India, and, eventually, Japan. Japan first got an abacus from China in about 1600 AD.

People who are efficient at using an abacus can do arithmetic problems very quickly. Some people don't even need the abacus to calculate the numbers - they just flick their fingers as if they had an abacus. An amazing sight to see. From a few thousand years ago, when the abacus was made of stone or wood, we now have, thanks to the iPhone, a completely modern abacus: a virtual abacus. Watch this video:

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Mirai Sozo is the School of Future Learning at Hokuriku University. The primary focus is on language (English and Chinese) and management (hospital administration, sports, and business).
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