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(3 pages total)

Page 2 - The Chinese Abacus


Instructions For Reading an Abacus:

The Abacus has a horizontal center bar with rows of beads above and below (Chinese style has 2 beads above and 5 beads below the bar). Numbers are calculated from this dividing bar. The result (answer) is then read back using the same center bar, from left to right. The beads are moved (added or subtracted) by moving them to or from this center bar, and they are used to "store" the numerical values.

Each vertical row of beads represents a multiple of 10 (10,000, 1,000, 100, 10, and 1). The beads BELOW the center bar represent one unit of that row (the beads in the rightmost column represent 1 unit, the beads in the row next to the rightmost column represent 10 units each, etc.) The beads in each row ABOVE the center dividing bar represent five units of that row.

The beads must be pushed against the center bar to be counted (the bottom beads must be pushed upwards to add value, the top beads must be pushed downwards to add value). To subtract values, the beads are pushed AWAY from the center divider bar.


Example Below: Abacus set to Zero
Abacus at zero
(no beads are pushed towards the center divider bar)


Example Below: Abacus set to 15
Abacus at 15
(one 10 unit bead and one 1 unit bead was added)


Example Below: Abacus set to 517
Abacus at 517
(one 500 unit bead, one 10 unit bead, one 5 unit bead, and two 1 unit beads)


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