History: Two thousand years of arithmetic aids – a historical rapid run-through

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The arrival of computers in areas of life is usually described as their digitization. This shows how associatively computers are with breaking down data into ones and zeros. Anyone who thinks that quantum computers only bring completely different technology into play is mistaken: Although the binary method of calculation currently predominates, it is by far not the only one. Because with computers, computing is the focus. Most of the time, the inventors didn’t care how it works – the main thing is that it worked.

For at least 2000 years mankind has tried to do calculations with machines. One of the oldest examples of this is a piece of equipment that was corroded into a lump and found by divers off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900. This “Antikythera mechanism” is believed today to be not a unique piece and could calculate numerous astronomical phenomena: solar and lunar eclipses, the ancient Egyptian calendar and the course of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. One of the first calculating machines that could only solve one type of problem.

Focus on quantum computing

It was preceded by the abacus, with its balls, which can be moved on rods, to solve tasks of the four basic arithmetic operations. This device was as widespread as cash registers in Russian stores until at least the end of the 20th century – although many could calculate faster with the abacus than with the cash registers.

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