Difference Between Abacus and Computer

Mathematics is considered one of the toughest subjects in the curriculum. This is because, unlike theory subjects, it requires understanding and practical application. A majority of daily activities are linked to calculations. This gives rise to manual and digital aids for the calculation process to eliminate the chance of miscalculations.

Abacus vs Computer

The main difference between abacus and computer is that the efficiency of performance varies. The former offers better speed in calculations when compared to the conventional method of using pen and paper. However, it can still not match the speed of computer operations. The efficiency depends on the model configuration and technical specifications.

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Records show that the earliest users of the abacus tool were the Babylonians. It is the first known calculating device. The abacus uses materials like wood, stone and has a metal frame. It allows ease of calculating functions like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. With time, the design of the abacus has evolved.

The earliest computer was invented by Charles Babbage, in the eighteenth century. It carried out a series of operations, known as programs. The different parts of the computer use a combination of metals, alloys, and plastics. The technologies used in computers have advanced with time and keep abreast with current trends.

Comparison Table Between Abacus and Computer

Parameters of ComparisonAbacusComputer
UseIt is used for mathematical calculations.Calculations are one of the many functions offered.
Key componentsAbacus relies on manual operation.A central processing unit is a core aspect needed.
ConvenienceIt is small and easily portable.A computer is not portable.
PerformanceA longer time is taken for calculating.The speed of calculations is much faster.
AccuracyThere may be miscalculations due to human error.Calculations are accurate and error-free.

What is Abacus?

Abacus, otherwise known as a counting frame has been used since ancient times. It can also calculate decimals, square and cube roots of numbers.

The primary parts of the abacus are the external frame, internal rods, and beads. The horizontal partition rod is called the beam. The beads in the upper placement are heaven beads. In the lower position are the earth beads.

A conventional abacus device has seventeen rods with five beads each. The rods have different values and beads have different numbers. Chinese and Japanese abaci are popular. The difference between the two is the difference in bead placement and arrangement.

The Cranmer Abacus was designed to cater to visually challenged individuals. This model is designed in such a way that the beads in the frame do not move arbitrarily, hence making calculations easy and trouble-free.

At present, there are different levels of abacus learning. This is related to the age categories of the learner. It is popular among the student population due to the advantages presented.

It enhances the child’s imagination, stimulates the brain, and maximizes the speed of the thought process. In addition to helping in focusing, it boosts confidence and establishes a strong knowledge base.

What is Computer?

Computers are products of technological advancement. They are relatively new tools that solve complex arithmetic functions and algorithms. One of the first computers was extremely bulky and heavy, weighing around twenty-seven pounds.

Simple logic is the basis for all problem-solving strategies. Mathematical calculations are a consequence of the processing unit. Calculation encompasses a fraction of what the computer is capable of performing. It allows data transfer with external devices.

Computers use binary functions. The binary system employs two digits, namely, zero and one. It is the easiest interpretation of the electrical signals passed on in a computer. Algorithms are arithmetic instructions that guide the process of automated responses.

Abacus was a source of inspiration for the creation of the modern computer. The ability to multi-task is one of the highlights of a computer. Data security and reduction in workload are other benefits.

Depending on the capacity to handle data, computers are classified as analogous, digital and hybrid. Based on the size, computers are sub-classified as supercomputers, mainframe,mini frame, microcomputers, and workstations.

Supercomputers are used in advanced research, quantum mechanics, and fuel exploration. They were created to solve complex functions using a combination of numerical and symbolic values. This is a time-consuming process.

Main Differences Between Abacus and Computer

  1. Abacus is an earlier followed method for arithmetic calculations. The computer is a newer invention that has other functions including input-output, data processing, and storage.
  2. Abacus is operated by the user and relies entirely on the said person. Apart from the CPU, other vital parts of a computer are the motherboard, RAM, SSD, and HDD.
  3. Abacus is a rectangular frame and the size makes it convenient to carry around. While a laptop is portable, a computer is not. This is because there are several accessory connections it is heavy.
  4. Abacus aims at mental calculations, so the speed of performance is higher. Computers use logical gates and programming to arrive at the answer within seconds.
  5. The possibility of error while performing multiple functions is high. The calculation process in a computer is automatic, needs no external intervention, and has zero error.


Abacus was the precursor to computers. They were used by traders, merchants, and other businessmen to tally values. During the initial years after the invention of the computer, the use was concentrated in areas of research, technology, and professional employment.

This is at odds with the current scenario. The young generations are exposed to the abacus to train their mental strength and skill set. It is a fun way of learning that develops the student’s analytical skills. The numerous issues in computers were rectified leading to new models that were lighter and faster.

This culminated in the invention of laptops, which perform the same functions as the computer but are portable. They can be carried around easily. In today’s digital era computer systems, laptops and other electronic types of equipment have become an inevitable part and parcel of daily life.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=8jDRAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP8&dq=abacus&ots=G60vWRQrku&sig=XSkGCpOIDZjn2O9wTpzIwDgsx_o
  2. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/1.4822551

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