A while back I reviewed the Japanese Soroban Abacus and it remains one of my favorite manual calculators. But it's not the only abacus in my collection, and in fact there are many variations of the abacus that have existed throughout history. The first abacus is believed to have been created thousands of years ago by the Sumerians, but the type most people are familiar with is the Chinese Suanpan Abacus, originally created around 190 CE.
|Chinese Suanpan Abacus.
|Please let me know if you recognize this logo.
Personally, I prefer electronic calculators. But no self-respecting calculator enthusiast should have and maintain a collection without an abacus or five. They're an important part of a very rich history of mathematics.
So would I recommend a Suanpan Abacus? Honestly, no, not for any practical use. The Soroban is the superior device. But if you want to appreciate this piece of history and learn to calculate the way people did long before electronic calculators, it's definitely worth playing around with.
I found this particular Suanpan at Goodwill for 50 cents. It's easy to miss these at thrift shops because they're never assigned to any particular category and are often buried under other things.
|Can also be operated sideways, like this.