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# Ancient Computers, Part I - Rediscovery, Edition 2 by Stephen Kent Stephenson (Paperback / softback, 2013)

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- DescriptionAncient Computers is an excellent introduction to the calculating methods of diverse cultures across time. A mixture of history and practical techniques for understanding and using these ancient devices brings the tools of these long-forgotten civilizations to a wide audience. Stephenson writes in an easy-to-understand and accessible manner and the use of diagrams is extensive. Want kw how to use an abacus or where it came from? This is the book for you! The book is appropriate for high school audiences and above. Dag Spicer Senior Curator Computer History Museum Mountain View, CA ===== The author ... makes two points that deserve wider dissemination. The first is that he sees the central dividing line of the Salamis Tablet as allowing an additive side and a subtractive side ... and tes that this approach, 'reduces the number of pebbles needed tremendously'. It also makes many calculations easier. One cant argue with his claims of increased efficiency and this point deserves further investigation. The author's second substantive point is that in attempting to understand ancient mathematics, historians need to pay more attention to the available tools, techlogy, tation, and termilogy to see how particular algorithms may have been performed. The author has a video of himself computing the square root of 2 using a set of Salamis Tablets following Heron's method. It takes him 25 minutes [to achieve the four sexagesimal digit precision of Yale tablet YBC 7289]. His argument is that [making and] using only [mathematical reference] tables and writing intermediate [cuneiform] results on clay would take a lot longer. From review by Prof. Duncan Melville, http: //www.stlawu.edu/user/348, in Aestimatio, http: //www.ircps.org/aestimatio/9/294-297. ===== People, especially historians, have long struggled to appreciate and understand how Ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, and Babylonians, et al, were able to do their arithmetic calculations. Many say the Ancients probably used line abacuses or abaci, a.k.a. counting boards. But most then trivialize the possible impact that use would have on the Ancient cultures because they really don't think those abaci would be very powerful and that they would be extremely hard to use. The (re-)discovery this book documents and explores materialized from the author's experiences in engineering, with a kwledge that design compromises often have to be made; computer programming, especially the different number bases used; the hobby use of a Japanese abacus called the Soroban; and study of the Ancients' numbers and culture. The bottom line is that the Ancients had a powerful and lightning fast computer; powerful and fast compared to any other calculation method available to them in their time. Features included: - multi-base number modes: e.g., sexagesimal, decimal, duodecimal, or nary; - operating on those numbers in two parts: a signed fraction of the base and a signed exponent of the base, equivalent to scientific tation; - easy and low-cost expandability; and - built-in error checking! On the standard Ancient line abacus doing base-10 calculations, the fraction could have 10 significant digits and the exponent 4. Certainly eugh for most modern engineering or scientific problems. If you need more, though, just scribe a few more lines on the abacus and add a few more pebbles to your pouch! By the way, 170 small pebbles will suffice for any problem on the standard line abacus. They fit in a pouch that can be easily and comfortably carried in a man's trouser pocket. I hope you find Ancient Computers interesting and useful, -Steve Stephenson, July 15, 2010 ===== Edition 2 adds two appendices: N: Nonary Abacus as Candidate for Modern Electronic Implementation; and V: Visualizing the Basis of Abacus Arithmetic (Using Colored Chip Models). -Steve Stephenson, July 2013
- Author BiographyIn Tokyo in 1964 I bought a Soroban with Kojima's book The Japanese Abacus: Its Use and Theory, an event that sparked my interest in abaci ... and in computers. After getting my M. Eng. (Elect.) degree at Cornell University, my 30 year career included working on the design and construction of nuclear power plants, missile systems software engineering, and industrial and engineering computer systems sales and systems engineering. Deciding to become a high school math teacher at the end of 2000, I took a History of Math course as part of my M.Ed. degree program at UMassLowell. I was struck by how easy it would be to use ancient Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and Babylonian numerals to record abaci calculation results. Prof. Gonzalez asked, Yes, but how would you do multiplication and division? So as a hobby, I've worked the last 10 years to (re-) discover the schematics and programming rules of the computers the Ancients used to do their accounting and engineering to support and empower the greatest empires in human history. I hope you find Ancient Computers interesting and useful, -Steve Stephenson, M. Eng. (Elect.), M. Ed., http: //sks23cu.net/MT/, July 15, 2010. Edition 2 changes some formatting and adds two appendices: N: Nonary Base (candidate for electronic implementations); and V: Visualizing Abacus Arithmetic. Edition 2 is now available as a printed book in addition to the Kindle eBook. Two DVDs containing the Stephenson Videos are also available on Amazon.com as Ancient Computers: Part II - Video Users Manual, How to Use a Counting Board Abacus (1 of 2) and Ancient Computers: Part II - Video Users Manual, How the Romans Used a Counting Board Abacus (2 of 2). -Steve Stephenson, July 2013, Math Teacher (precalc and calc), retired 6/30/2013.

### Key Features

- Author(s)Stephen Kent Stephenson
- PublisherCreatespace
- Date of Publication14/07/2013
- LanguageEnglish
- FormatPaperback / softback
- ISBN-101490964371
- ISBN-139781490964379
- SubjectComputing: General

### Publication Data

- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintCreatespace
- Content Noteblack & white illustrations

### Dimensions

- Weight91 g
- Width127 mm
- Height203 mm
- Spine5 mm

### Editorial Details

- Format DetailsTrade paperback (US),Unsewn / adhesive bound

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