Abacus Mental Arithmetic and the History of Abacus

Counting must be as old as the history of mankind. Fingers, perhaps, are the first abacus used by human beings.  However, dealing with numbers and making calculations can be associated with the invention of writing and the history of civilization.

Although the exact time when Abacus, that comes from Greek word "abax"etimologically, was invented, written sources show that it goes as far back as 1300 BC.  

Some circles claim that abacus was invented 5000 years ago. A story depicts that abacus was invented by Li Sou, a servant who worked at the Chinese emperor's palace. The story says that Li Sou made this abacus by putting a layer of mud on a tray and placing ten rows of pearls on the surface of the mud, and gave it to the emperor as a gift.

The earliest abaci were used for counting rather than making calculations. The oldest abacus that has survived till today is a tablet of counting that was used by Babyloians: It is called "Salamis Tablet" as it has been unearthed at the archeological site in the Greek island of Salamis in 1899. It is estimated to have been created around 300 BC with carved lines on the surface of the stone tablet.

More primitive forms of abacus, like stones placed on the surface of sand, are thought to have been used in Mezopotamia by Sumerians between 2700 BC and 2300 BC. Later, different forms of abacus are believed to have been used in Egypt, Iran and Greece. The contemporary form of abacus with beads on rods in a wooden frame is chronogically more recent.

The use of abacus as a tool for brain development is a much newer application. The first experimental studies wer held in the Far-East in early nineteen-eighties. Afterwards, with the purpose of fast brain development and strong mental calculation skills in small children, various models  started to appear with different names and spread into other parts of the world.

In our country (Turkey), the first brain development project based on the use of abacus was initiated by Menar as Abacus Mental Arithmetic in 2008. The system was welcomed with great interest by parents who had the chance to get acquainted with Menar. In two years Menar grew to 15 centers in various cities and is still continuing to grow and reach more children. Five years after its foundation, today (February 2013), Menar  has reached 40 thousand children in Turkey and has spread to some other countries, namely, Northern Cyprus, Georgia, Azerbadjan and Lithuania.

In today's digital environment, abacus, which is also known as "soroban", is like a calculator that doesn't need electricity and is the most popular arithmetic tool that is used in children's brain development. It consists of beads that slide along rods in a frame and comes in different types. The type that is used in Menar program has five beads on each rod as seen in the picture. The beads that represent numbers in a certain systematic are moved up and down along the rods. This way all kinds of arithmetic calculations can be made very easily and very fast.   

Login Form

Enter your user name and password.

Main Menu