Calculator Business, back then


Serious Calculator Business


Very interesting pictures. Thanks for sharing.

One point, however. The publisher wrote:

There were no calculators in 19th-century Russia.

There were no calculators *anywhere on this planet* in the 1860s, beyond different types of abaci and slide rules, except a *very low* number of working mechanical calculating devices. This was no Russian speciality IMHO.



"Calculator" used to be a profession, not a device.


Marcus; True.


Marcus, db,

True but missing the point. Those calculators or computers were not meant in the picture caption quoted. Please compare Palmer's post below.



The complete text was:

There were no calculators in 19th century Russia. Arithmetic was done with the help of an abacus; so of course, this provided a niche for the peasantry -- wood carvers, in particular.

I noted from the picture that most of the wires had ten beads, but some wires had only four. I didn't understand what that was about until I found the following discussion in Wikipedia:
The Russian abacus, the schoty (ñ÷¸òû), usually has a single slanted deck, with ten beads on each wire (except one wire which has four beads, for quarter-ruble fractions. This wire is usually near the user). (Older models have another 4-bead wire for quarter-kopeks, which were minted until 1916.)

If you go to the next picture in the series on Russian peasantry you will find the following text:
Knife grinders were much needed in Russia. Among the lower classes there was no money to just buy a new knife when one went blunt, and even the wealthy would send out their knives for resharpening.

One can only wonder what world the author of the texts in the Russian peasantry series was in. Maybe I'm just sensitive on the sharpening of knives subject. Even in this 21st century I still sharpen my knives rather than buy new ones when my old ones become dull. I suppose that Ms. Michelle Collet would identify me as "of the lower classes."

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