“Calculations made easy! Japanese did it” An advertisement in ancient times.

How did they make it easy? They evolved.

Ingenious invention, Abacus, a bead-based system is a tool used for computation and calculation. Ancients used it wisely and extensively for complex problems. It spread all over the world. Romans took notice of the invention and reproduced it.

In ancient Chinese texts, abacus is referred to as “Ball Arithmetic”.

So, how does abacus work? It is simple and easy. It has reference to memorizing or visualizing an abacus while calculating or computing complex problems. It is a technique and has to be learnt. It activates your right part of the brain, which deals with creativity. Abacus makes use of beads as numbers and computes the result.

It helps you with number manipulation, decimal grasp, numeral correlations etc. It is a real-time machine.

It really makes the calculator jealous! Isn’t it?

Dummy’s Guide to Abacus

Different types of abacuses: Here’s a list of some abacuses:

Chinese Suanpan (5+2 beads)

Japanese Soroban (5+1 beads)

Japanese Soraban (4+1 beads)

Russian Abacus-Stschoty

“Lee’s Improved Abacus”

Each abacus has evolved and brings in new techniques and easier methods to calculate or compute complex problems.

Calculation: Each abacus has a unique style of computation. Here’s is how to use abacus?

abacus work

Be aware of the abacus structure: A centre bar divides the abacus into two parts. Each part has columns of beads. The lower part consists of 4 beads in each column and the upper column may have one or two beads. Random values are assigned to the beads in lower part. The beads in upper part carry 5 times the value in lower beads.

Default position of the beads: Keep all the beads in bottom of the respective parts. If no bead touches the centre bar, it is considered to be Zero. Keep your abacus clean.

The Process: Write the 1st number. Numbers are to be broken into single digits. Position the 2nd number (as shown in the example below). Place the number according to the mathematical expression. While adding, the number would be placed differently than subtraction. Count the beads in each column. A value of a digit will be visible.

Tip: While computing decimals, move the unit’s column to the left.

Here’s an example,

Addition of 45+64 (According to the Chinese system)

Step1: Placing 45

Move up the five beads in the 1st column. Move down 1 upper bead in the 2nd column. This is 45.

Step2. Adding 64

In the 1st column, move 1 upper bead down and move up 1 lower bead. In the 2nr column, move 4 lower beads up. This is 109.

Step3. Clear positions

Void the upper beads and lower beads in 1st and 2nd column. In the 3rd column move 1 lower bead up. This position shows 109.


It is easy to use an abacus, if you undergo a training session. If you love in Delhi, ‘Abacus training in india’ is the phrase you should be searching for.