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calculators and computers


You probably have a computer in your school or even at home. You may use it for studying, doing project work, finding out information, sending emails to your friends, or just to play games on. Fifty years ago, most people would not have known what a computer was. Even having a simple calculator was considered a luxury.


What did the first calculators look like?


A very early form of calculating machine was called an ABACUS. They are still used in many parts of the world, for example in China.

The first modern 'calculators' consisted of a room full of women, each doing sums and adding up their answers…no kidding, this is true!


Before calculators were common school children had to work out complicated sums by hand, with the help of log tables mouse over arrow (no not that sort of log table, it's short for 'table of logarithms'!mouse over arrow) and slide rules mouse over arrow.


The use of log tables was a method of simplifying multiplications and divisions and was based on a technique developed by a clever mathematician called John Napier (1550-1617) who studied at the university of St Andrews in Scotland from the age of 13. mouse over arrow






The first mechanical computer was built by an English man called Charles Babbage (1791-1871).


He called this a difference machine mouse over arrow. It might seem very clumsy nowadays, but at the time there was a major technological advance.






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