1500 AD
Leonardo da Vinci's Mechanical Calculator

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Many references cite the French mathematician, physicist, and theologian, Blaise Pascal as being credited with the invention of the first operational calculating machine called the Arithmetic Machine.

However, it now appears that the first mechanical calculator may have been conceived by Leonardo da Vinci almost one hundred and fifty years earlier than Pascal's machine.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci.

Copyright (c) 1997. Maxfield & Montrose Interactive Inc.

One of da Vinci's original sketches
One of da Vinci's original sketches.

Courtesy of IBM

Da Vinci was a genius: painter, musician, sculptor, architect, engineer, and so on. However, his contributions to mechanical calculation remained hidden until the rediscovery of two of his notebooks in 1967.
These notebooks, which date from sometime around the 1500s, contained drawings of a mechanical calculator, and working models of da Vinci's device have since been constructed.

Working model of da Vinci's mechanical calculator
Working model of da Vinci's device.

Courtesy of IBM

See also:
The invention of the abacus

John Napier and Napier's Bones

The invention of the slide rule

Wilhelm Schickard's mechanical calculator

Blaise Pascal's Arithmetic Machine

Gottfried von Libniz's Step Reckoner


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These notes are abstracted from the book Bebop BYTES Back
(An Unconventional Guide to Computers)
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