From: Maria Jette
Subject: an elfin abacus
Date: Jun 27, 2002
Greetings from Minneapolis--
I was wearing a little sterling abacus necklace today (from my mother's '50s charm bracelet), and my young nephews and niece (12, 7 & 4) were fascinated by it. When the eldest asked if you could do division on it, I said I'd look it up on the Web, and voilà!
I did a bit of the most rudimentary addition on an abacus as a child, as we had a full-size one around the house. This one, being about an inch long, doesn't get a lot of use unless you count messing around with gullible people (who believe me when I say I use it to calculate tips at restaurants).
I hope my young relatives will take a look at your wonderful site.
Yes, it's THE Maria Jette, frequent guest on A Prarie Home Companion-- I asked.
From: William Gill
Subject: Tokyo Contest
Date: Oct 2, 2000
In 1946 I was in the Army stationed in Tokyo, Japan. We lived in downtown Tokyo and had easy access to recreation facilities. The Ernie Pyle Theater usually presented some sort of stage presentation followed by a recent film. My wife and I went regularly because the stage presentations were special. I clearly remember the contest between the abacus and calculator. That it was impressive is evidenced by my clear remembrance to this day. I was surprised and delighted to see mention of that event in your home page.
Thanks for the memory.
[The email is referring to this contest.]
From: Stephen Wiesner
Subject: Abacus site
Date: May 30, 2000
Dear Mr. Fernandes:
Visited your abacus web site. What a nice informative site!
From: Peter Krebs
Subject: abacus / roman numerals
Date: May 20, 2000
I am currently doing a project on a related topic. Up unto the mid 19th century the Exchequer in England used a calculating board with lines representing roman numerals (I,V,X,L,C,D,M ) and wooden tokens to represent numbers. The calculating algorithms are 'abacus-like'. I will be writing a graphic simulation program (in c++ ? ). Do you have any info on the Exchequer calculating board, or some pointers to some literature?
I recently (2014) found some information on the Exchequer and added it to the history page.
From: Jude T. DaShiell
Subject: abacus source
Date: May 20, 2000
Try http://www.aph.org. That's the web
site for the American Printing House For the Blind, 1839 Frankfort Avenue Louisville, KY.
Though the printing house sells things to the blind, they'll happily sell to sighted people too. They sell the Cranmer Abacus and clips so more than one abacus can be hooked together thus giving more columns. Those abacuses have four beads below the bar and one bead above the bar. The beads below the bar are units, and the bead above the bar represents 5's. The beads touching the bar on a column make up the numbers when using the cranmer abacus.
I'm totally blind and had learned to use an abacus in 2nd grade. I still carry one with me regularly these days. I was in 2nd grade in the 1960's so you have an idea of the time line.
Hope this information proves useful.
From: Fred Kiesche
Subject: A SF story involving the abacus...
Date: Jan 13, 2000
I found your abacus page via Sphere's Slide Rule Universe pages. Great stuff!
I see you also have a interest in 2001, so you may already know this...but, what the heck:
Arthur C. Clarke wrote a story called "Into the Comet". It deals with a ship that enters a comet to explore what the head of the comet looks like (it may have been Halley's Comet, but it's been a **long** time since I've read the story!). While in the comet the crew discovers that their computer is no longer functioning. This means they won't be able to return to earth (for some reason, presumably because Clarke was working with 194x technology, he did not assume that they would be able to make radio contact...)
During the course of a dream, one of the crew remembers using an abacus as a boy. He fashions one out of spare supplies, convinces the captain of its worthiness, and the crew builds a number of the devices to caluculate their course back. At some point they do get in touch with earth, and are able to check their course.
The story is either in "The Other Side of the Sky" or "Tales from Ten Worlds", both short story collections that are pretty much always in print. If not, you could try a second hand store (on the web, I would suggest Powells, at: http://www.powells.com/ ...as a starting place!)
Of related interest was a Isaac Asimov story--maybe called "The Power" (????) where one race achieves military superiority over another race because they (re)discover doing math by hand...
Great web page!
From: Aga Skotowski
Subject: Abacus page
Date: Jun 21, 1998
What a wonderful page! I really enjoyed how clear the text descriptions are, and how well laid out the entire page is. All this and informative, too... I'm very impressed. :-)
From: David Gabriel Torres Siegrist
Date: Jan 17, 1998
Thank you so much for this!
I have been looking high and low for information re use of the abacus, which I have, but information which I did not have.
From: Richard Parnell
Subject: calculating using fingers
Date: Dec 14, 1998
A number of years ago while watching the old Tonight show with Johnny
Carson. There was a guest that came on and taught Carson, the
audience and me (at home) how to do math calculations, add, subtract,
mult, etc. using your fingers. In
about 2 minutes I was able to do these calculations using my
fingers. It was amazing. The guest even had a newly taught audience
member come up and beat Johnny who used a calculator at math
Over the years I have forgotten how to do this amazing finger math (through disuse). I would like to learn again. I have been searching the web for information on this system but can't remember what it was called. If you have any information it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
The "finger math" is called Chisan Bop.
From: Arthur van Hoff (Sun Microsystems)
Date: Apr 6, 1995
First of all, Congratulations!
We would like to demo some of the winning applets in the applet contest at Java day next Thursday the 21st of September in New York. In order to do so I am porting some of the winning applets to the beta APIs. I will send each of you a copy of the code when that is done. Please let me know if you have any objections if we show your applets at this event.
If you like I can make the upgraded applets accessible from our web site java.sun.com (at least those that don't require server support). Please let me know if you would like me to do that.
We can even include your applets in future release of the JDK. You will need to send me mail for that to happen.
Arthur van Hoff
This is the only derisive email I have received about the abacus:
From: Ihor Sereda
Subject: Abacus HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
Date: Oct 17, 1996
Just saw the abacus page....who cares that it beats an ELECTRIC calculator, who the hell uses those anymore....last time I looked at my calculator it was electronic. Get a life