The Chinese Abacus

The Abacus appears in many different guises in many countries. They have also been used for many different number bases too. The Chinese Abacus counts in base 10, and has been around for a long time. It can still be seen in use in Chinese stores to reckon the grocery bills, or taught its use in the classroom to the younger generations. With the advent of the pocket sized calculator, in the last couple of decades, the Chinese abacus has still got a place in modern commerce and arithmetic. It does not require any power source, other than human manipulation, and accuracy depends on the proficiency of the user.

I am learning by practicing on my wooden abacus. I'd like to show you sone techniques for manipulating it for arithmetic. The little manual that is my guide has been hard to follow since its english is not very clear, and cramps many stages of a process together. I hope that my presentation here using pictorial examples with my own comments will put across the message. Below is a diagram of an abacus (a hybrid of the two I have).

It is best to leave any preconcieved notions about beads on sticks behind, as there are things which require a new way of thinking, which hopefully, will not bee too hard to comprehend.

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This page was created on Thursday 25th June 1998.
It was recently updated on Tuesday 24th January 1999

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