Friday, November 23, 2012

Retro Calculator


Schoty and his Ankylosaurus pal Soroban help merchants with their arithmetic using a giant abacus mounted on Soroban’s back. Schoty can reach out with his wooden stick to move the red beads back and forth within the wooden frame. The abacus here resembles the Chinese version, though other kinds of abacuses occur elsewhere in the world. In fact the names “Schoty” and “Soroban” are the Russian and Japanese words for “abacus.” 
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From Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara (2007), which you can get signed by me or from Amazon
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10 comments:

Chris Iliff said...

Thought you might find this interesting. It's a video about a mechanical calculator called a "Curta"
http://youtu.be/cndx5eKGjyU

Scorchfield said...

Bravo!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20395212

Greg Newbold said...

The miniaturization of technology sure has come a long way. I bet today his abacus could fit in your pocket.

william said...

Even in the Americas, well to a degree. (I'm sure James knows about this but I thought I'd share it for anyone else). The ancient Inca had a system for keeping count of large numbers and doing similar types of arithmetic. In their case, instead of sliding beads, it was an intricate system of colored knots and ropes called a Quipu. If you can find an image of it, Drake's Quipu which dates from the later Incan period, is a wonderfully preserved example.

william said...

HA, LOL. LARCO, the Larco Quipu is what I meant to write. (Drakes Quipu is from a fictional novel I read a few years ago, sorry."Smiles" Mama said there will be days like this :)

Cale said...

Hi James,
quick question: Do you use bristle brushes for an ├ębauche? or something softer. I find I am fighting the thin paint. Happy Thanksgiving!

Amir Al-Zubi said...

-B-
Great idea, but does it have to be placed on the poor animal?
It can be placed on the table or have it own wooden legs...

Amir

James Gurney said...

Amir, the Ankylosaurus loves having it on its back, because it loves math--but he does his calculations in his head instead.

Cale, I use both bristles and nylons and sables for oils, both for thin paint and thicker paint.

William, thanks for that. There's a great book called the Universal History of Numbers that chronicles the variety of non-western math systems.

Chris, thanks for the Curta link. And yes, Greg, miniaturization makes sense sometimes, but dinosaurs like things to be oversize.

Amir Al-Zubi said...

-B-
Thanks for explanation, James:))

Hannah said...

When I saw this image in the book, I couldn't help having a chuckle. I'd just recently learned 'soroban' (I'm studying Japanese). This definitely made it easier to remember.