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The Story of Abacus
The abacus was a great invention of ancient China and has been called by some Western writers as "the earliest calculating machine in the world".
The abacus has a long history behind it. It was already mentioned in a book of the Eastern Han Dynasty, namely Supplementary Notes on the Art of Figures written by Xu Yue about the year A.D. 190. Its popularization occurred at the latest during the Song Dynasty (960 - 1127), when hang Zeduan painted his Riverside Scenes at Qingming Festival. In this famous scroll, an abacus is clearly seen lying beside a book. And during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the abacus was introduced into Japan.
Abacuses are easy to make, handy to carry around and quick to give the answers provided one knows how to move the beads. They are made in difference sizes and the largest known abacus measures 26 centimetres high by 306 centimetres long with 117 rods! Being over a hundred years old, it is kept at Darentang which is a well-known traditional pharmacy in Tianjin.