There was a time in the ancient period when
number never existed and people used to count
using their fingers and toes. However, the
merchants of that period needed a counting
device to calculate the inventories of the items
that they bought and sold. These difficulties
lead to the invention of several counting
devices which assisted in working out large
numbers. Abacus is one of those counting
Abacus is a Latin word that has originated from a Greek word 'abakon' or 'abax', meaning "tablet" or "table". This Greek work, in turn, is believed to have been originated from the Semitic word 'abq', meaning "sand".
Like the counting boards, abaci are specifically designed for counting. However, they differ from the counting boards in many aspects. The counting boards are pieces of metal, wood or stone with carved grooves or painted lines between which metal discs, beads or pebbles were moved. The abaci are devices, usually made of wood, which have a frame that holds rods with freely-sliding beads mounted on them. Abaci are not quite different from the modern electromechanical calculators.
People use abacus to execute calculations in their head and use the device as a physical help to keep track of the sums, the carry-overs, etc.
Abaci are of different types. The Chinese abaci are referred to as suanpan. The Japanese abaci are referred to as soroban and the Russian ones are called as schoty.
Even against the modern electronic calculators, abaci prove to be a comprehensive tool for simple arithmetic calculations. The simplicity and the appearance of the device appear to children just like another of their toys. As a result the children never feel bored while doing calculations on it. Abaci sharpen children's memory and enhance their ability to perform mental calculations. With regular usage, students can do the calculations without using abaci, by just visualizing abaci in their minds. The blind children who cannot perform calculations on paper use abaci for calculation.
Abacus definitely comes as an ultimate solution for the students to make accurate and fast calculations.