Abacus vs. Calculator

Nov 1946: In a contest of old vs. new technology, the abacus beat a calculator in a contest of speed in all categories (addition, subtraction, and division) except multiplication.

I'm assuming a modern computer should now be able to outperform an abacus, though I suppose it would depend on how quickly one can input the numbers.

More info: Abacus vs. the Electric Calculator

The Californian - Nov 11, 1946

Detroit Free Press - Nov 4, 1946

     Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 02, 2020
     Category: Technology | Computers | 1940s

Not mentioned, the greatest advantage that the electro-mechanical calculator had over an abacus was its ability to make a record of input against the results. In case of an error the operator could trace back to find the input error which is impossible with the abacus. The modern, purely electronic calculator that is ubiquitous, has the same problem as that abacus, but it sure is handy to have one in one's pocket when needed.
Posted by KDP on 12/02/20 at 11:20 AM
That "electric calculator" was basically mechanical, like the cartoon, but without the hand crank and with an electronic display. The abacus would probably still beat today's digital calculators for addition and subtraction. For multiplication and division, I'd take 'em both on with my slipstick. If nothing else, I could bash their knuckles with it so they would make mistakes.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 12/02/20 at 11:36 AM
The slide rule will beat them all.
Posted by Joe on 12/02/20 at 03:38 PM
A slide rule is a.k.a. "slipstick." Had mine since high school.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 12/03/20 at 08:56 AM
@Virtual: it would, but only by approximation. Both a calculator and a large enough abacus can give you 89734 * 90329 to the last digit. A slide rule can not. In engineering, that's rarely a great problem: just err on the side of safety. In finance, though...
Posted by Richard Bos on 12/05/20 at 05:35 AM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.