The Abacus and the Numeral FrameThe Japanese Abacus
Most recent Japanese abaci (soroban) have one counter above and four below. Some older Japanese instruments have five counters in the lower section. The right-most column represents units, the next tens, the next hundreds, etc. For numbers with digits to the right of the decimal point, the first column is for the smallest decimal term. In multiplication, some columns are used for the number being multiplied and some for the product. In part for this reason, there are more columns on most abaci than are usually used in addition. In any calculation, the counters that represent numbers are those moved against the crossbar.
"The Abacus and the Numeral Frame - The Japanese Abacus" showing 1 items.
- This Japanese abacus or soroban has an open wooden frame painted black, with a black wooden cross bar. There are five metal rods parallel to the cross bar, one above it and four below. Each rod holds 23 white plastic beads. The beads, held in 23 separate columns by wooden pieces between them, are in roughly the shape a human torso, spherical on top and polygonal below. They do not slide along rods, as in a usual abacus, but flip toward or away from the cross bar.
- According to the donor, the abacus was built for the blind. It is stored in a white box with a turquoise cover. A picture of the abacus is attached to the cover. On the inside of the lid is a yellow paper label written in Japanese characters. It also reads in part: PAT. NO. 9452 (/) TAKEDA'S ABACUS (/) 9, IWAMOTO, KANDA, CHIYODA-KU, TOKYO (/) SALES OFFICES:HORIE CO:LTD. TEL (866)4918.
- In the early 1950s, Russell Kletzing, the donor of this instrument, was denied a place on the register of the U.S. Civil Service because he passed the exams with the help of sighted readers. The National Federation of the Blind challenged this decision in the case of Kletzing vs. Young. Although Kletzing lost the case, the Civil Service eventually reversed its position.
- In the course of his career, Russell Kletzing was chief counsel of the California State Water Resources Department and president of the Sacramento chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. For a brief time in the 1960s, he was president of the National Federation of the Blind.
- Currently not on view
- Kletzing, Russell
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center