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The World's First Calculator

The first instrument to help making calculations was the abacus. This has wooden beds that are moved along a wire or thin wooden stick to represent numbers. It was developed in Babylonia in 3000 BC.

The first calculating machine was invented in France in 1642 and could add and subtract figures automatically.

It was built by the scientist Blaise Pascal at the young age of just 19. Numbers were fed into the calculator via wheels. These turned gears inside the calculator. They then moved dials with the numbers so that the result showed in a set of windows.

Blaise Pascal was a mathematician, physicist and theologian. While in his teens he studies mathematics and in collaboration with Pierre de Fermat, he invented the triangle for calculating the coefficients of a binominal expansion. He also made discoveries in fluid mechanisms, notably that the pressure in a fluid is everwhere equal. At the age of 31 he had a mystical experience and from then on devoted his life to religion.

For it’s time the calculator worked well, however could only add and subtract. The first machine which could also multiply and divide was invented by the German scientist Gottfried Leibnitz, in 1694.

The mechanical calculators were used until the 1970's, until electronic calculators became more popular.