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Digital thinking tools for better decision making
Digital thinking tools for better decision making

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1.3 Tools for arithmetic

The simple idea of calculating with tokens developed over time into devices such as the counting board. This is a special table on which calculations are made using counters. Interestingly, counting boards sometimes had a chequerboard pattern, like a chessboard, and the modern word exchequer (as in Chancellor of the Exchequer) derives from this.

The invention of writing also led to the use of written calculations. In Figure 7 you can see both methods. The person on the right is using a counting board. The person on the left seems to be calculating with something similar to the Hindu–Arabic numerals used today. (The female figure in between is a ‘personification’, representing Arithmetic.)

Early calculations from Gregor Reisch
Figure 7 Early calculations from Gregor Reisch (1508 ), Margarita Philosophica, Arithmetica

The next section looks at something closely related to tools: mechanisation.