Inventions and Discoveries

Some Inventions and Discoveries || Abacus, Pascaline, Napier's Bones, Calculator

What is the difference between an invention and a discovery?

To invent means to create a new device or develop a process (of practical utility) after conducting thorough research and experimentation. To ‘discover’ is to find out or learn something which already existed but had been unknown till the time. Inventions give us an altogether new product, whereas discoveries tell us about something, like a place, a concept, or a phenomenon, which hitherto lay hidden from our view. Most inventions and discoveries are driven by human needs and both intended in making our lives comfortable.

Who invented the abacus?

The abacus is one of many counting devices invented to help count large numbers that were beyond the human hand and its fingers or pebbles or twigs used for counting. The oldest surviving counting board is the Salamis tablet (originally thought to be a gaming board), used by the Babylonians circa 300 BC, discovered in 1846 on the island of Salamis.

Who invented the adding machine called ‘Pascaline’?

A French mathematician, Blaise Pascal invented the adding machine called ‘Pascaline’, also called the Arithmetic machine between 1642 and 1644. The machine had gear-like metal dials, with which it could perform addition and subtraction functions. The simplest model had five dials, while the later models had up to ten dials, and even results included decimal places.

What are ‘Napier’s Bones’?

It is a mechanical method for performing multiplication and division and was based upon the manipulation of rods with printed digits. The device was invented by a Scottish mathematician, John Napier in 1617. It reduced multiplication to addition operations and divisions to subtractions. More advanced use could even extract square roots. The earliest device used ivory sticks, and hence earned the name ‘bones’. Later models were designed using strips of wood, metal, or heavy cardboard.

Who invented the first calculator that could perform four basic arithmetic operations?

The first calculator that could perform all four arithmetic operations -addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division- was called the Stepped Reckoner. It was invented by the German mathematician, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, around 1672. This device had drums having ten flutes arranged around their circumference in a stair-stem fashion. Each drum having 10 flutes represented the decimal number system. However, in 1820, Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar, a Frenchman invented the calculating machine that could perform the four basic arithmetic functions.

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