Apparently, the first recorded use of this counting frame was approximately 2700BC. Imagine using this to work out the tax payable on a variety of income sources subject to numerous other variables. Difficult…
The first computers that had any commercial punch started to appear in the late 1960s. They could only be afforded by large corporations. Typically, huge towers packed with “light bulbs” occupied five thousand square metres of floor space and had less computing power than today’s mobile phone. Adding up was attended to by comptometer operators and the mysterious use of punch cards. Clerks didn’t break their nails on computer keyboards, they used pen, paper and adding machines that required the mechanical winding of handles to add, takeaway, multiply or divide.
Some would say the good old days.
At that point, we had made progress, but it was touch and go who would win the race to add up a column of figures: the mechanical Facit machine or an abacus.
Now, we can add a column of figure listed on a spreadsheet in milliseconds: @SUM and away you go. Computers have taken over the steady tapping of comptometers and the whir and clunk of hand assisted calculators. Mental arithmetic, grey matter gymnastics, is on the decline, we have technology that has taken away those skills. Pity.
The first key driven calculator, was patented in the USA by Dorr E Felt, 1887. It had taken over 4,500 years for the stones, lovingly moved across sandy groves in the Middle East, to morph into a serious bit of kit, the comptometer.
It took a mere 80 years to clear out a canteen and cram it full of transistors to calculate the weekly payroll for 500 staff.
In the last 50 years, the age of the evolving microchip, a standard mobile phone can access the largest online network of information that no physical library could ever contain, the internet.
Whatever next? Anyone seen the abacus?