Using an Abacus/Introduction

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The abacus is an ancient calculating device formerly used all over the world. It was originally a dust board, that is a board covered with dust (or wax) on which to trace figures, such as a writing pad is used nowadays. Later it became a board with grooves in which to slide counters back and forth. Finally, it became the familiar abacus, a wooden frame with beads on rods. In modern times, it has fallen out of use, being replaced by written arithmetic and, more recently, calculators; however, it is still used in Asian countries, in particular China and Japan.

There are many methods to use an abacus, those presented here are mostly classical, Japanese methods.

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