Ancient counting tool
The history of counting tool inventions can be traced as far back as 300 BC when various materials (sand, pebbles, clay and wood) were used. It was not until the 11th century that the first counting board (consisted of beads and rods) was invented in China. The use of the abacus subsequently spread to Japan in the 15th Century. Since then, the abacus has gone through some modifications from the original Chinese abacus version which consisted of 2 top beads and 5 bottom beads to 1 top bead and 4 bottom beads also known as the Japanese abacus (‘soroban’).
Adaptation of the Chinese abacus
The abacus has contributed greatly to the development of science, engineering and trades around the world. It enables complex mathematical computations which would have otherwise been difficult. The abacus was voted by Forbes.com (a prominent American business magazine) in 2005 to be the second most important tool of all time for these contributions. In Japan, many office workers still use the abacus (‘Soroban’) in their daily computational work.