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Early Counting and Computing Tools: An entry from Gale's Science and Its Times [HTML] [Digital]

Donald R. Franceschetti

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Early civilizations developed a variety of ways of representing and manipulating numerical quantities in addition to the use of written symbols. Systems based on counting fingers and sometimes toes were replaced by tokens with a variety of numerical values, and devices for doing elementary arithmetic by the manipulation of physical objects followed. Counting boards and the abacus remained in widespread use through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. Long before the invention of writing, humans appear to have developed some sense of number. Small clay tokens begin appearing at archaeological sites during the eighth millenium B.C....

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