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Japanese Abacus (Soroban)


The soroban is an abacus developed in Japan. It is derived from the Chinese suanpan, imported to Japan around 1600. Like the suanpan, the soroban is still used today despite the proliferation of practical and affordable pocket electronic calculators.

In 1946, the best electric calculator operator (Private Thomas Nathan Wood of the 20th Finance Disbursing Section of General MacArthur's headquarters) competed in a series of problems against Mr. Kiyosi Matsukai (champion operator of the abacus in the Savings Bureau of the Ministry of Postal Administration). The abacus operator won!