Online Abacuses

The following virtual abaci are available on this site for you to practice on.

What is an abacus

An abacus is a mechanical device designed to make arithmetic calculations easier. It represents the evolution of our hands as tools used for counting. It usually consists of a set of ordered beads that can be moved and positioned to represent numbers. Sometimes the beads are aligned horizontally, such as in the Russian abacus, or vertically, as in the Chinese and Japanese abaci.

The abacus is often used to help children learn the basis of the number system and to develop mental calculation skills.

A short history of the abacus

The early abaci, or rather, the early counting devices were lined boards on top of which the user would place pebbles. Each pebble on the board represented a different quantity depending on over what line of the board it was placed.

The Romans improved the concept of the counting board by making grooves on the board so that the pebbles wouldn't fall out of place.

The Abacus with wires or poles running through the center of the beads was invented in China.

The Japanese, adopted the Chinese Abacus and later they modified it by removing one bead from the top row and one bead from the bottom row. The Japanese version of the Abacus is called Soroban.