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Home History and Culture Abacus and Abacus Calculation
Abacus and Abacus Calculation
Learn Chinese - History and Culture

Many centuries ago, the abacus (suàn pán 算盘) evolved independently in many countries throughout Europe, the Middle East and China. Its use is recorded in China as early as 6th century B.C., from where it found its way to Korea and Japan.

Different styles of abacus were used in different countries, the Chinese version being known as a "Suan Pan”. Use of the abacus in the Western world ceased many years ago but it is still in extensive use in China.

AbacusAn abacus consists of a wooden frame with 13 sticks (some may have less) stretched vertically between the top and bottom, a wooden bar runs horizontally in the frame, two third of the way up the sticks. Two beads are strung on each stick above the horizontal bar and five beads below. The two beads represent five units each and the lower beads, single units of the order represented by the column.

Golden AbacusWith the application of the abacus, people summarized many abacus rhymes, increasing the calculating speed. By the time of the Ming Dynasty (míng cháo 明朝), people could use the abacus in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, which were widely used in calculating weight, amount, space and volume.

Since it is simple to make an abacus and cheap to buy one, and it is easy to remember abacus rhymes, simple and convenient to calculate with an abacus, which is called abacus calculation (zhū suàn 珠算) and widely used in China. There are many experts in the use of the abacus in all trades and professions, and some people can use an abacus with two hands at the same time.

Later the abacus gradually spread into Japan, Korea, America, and countries and regions in Southeast Asia. People find that using an abacus can improve thinking and practical abilities in addition to providing convenient calculation. Since it requires cooperation of the mind, eyes and hand, it is a good way to improve the comprehensive reaction ability.

Ancient Abacus      算盘,是中国人在长期使用算筹的基础发明的,素有“中国计算机”之美誉。在现代计算机出现之前,它一直是最为方便快捷的计算之器,于开发我炎黄子孙的智力,协助世代商家的经营,功莫大焉。




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