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From Napier to Lucas: The Use of Napier's Bones in Calculating Instruments

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129314D
Original Publication Date: 1983-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 18 page(s) / 66K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

M. R. WILLIAMS: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The paper surveys the development of different types of calculating machines that have used the idea of John Napier's ";bones."; After showing how to use the bones, the paper discusses the machines of such mathematicians as Wilhelm Schickard, Samuel Morland, Gaspard Schott, Athanasius Kircher, Edouard Lucas, and Henri Genaille. A newly discovered manuscript by Rene Grillet (from the late seventeenth century) provided the base for a study of Grillet's work and a remarkable arithmetic instrument he invented in 1678, using the idea of Napier's bones.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1983 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

From Napier to Lucas: The Use of Napier's Bones in Calculating Instruments

M. R. WILLIAMS

  (Image Omitted: © 1983 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's Address: Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4. Financial support for part of this work was provided by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, grant number S76- 082 1. © 1983 AFIPS 0164-1239/83/030279-296

From Napier to Lucas: The Use of Napier's Bones in Calculating Instruments

M. R. WILLIAMS .00/00)

The paper surveys the development of different types of calculating machines that have used the idea of John Napier's "bones." After showing how to use the bones, the paper discusses the machines of such mathematicians as Wilhelm Schickard, Samuel Morland, Gaspard Schott, Athanasius Kircher, Edouard Lucas, and Henri Genaille. A newly discovered manuscript by Rene Grillet (from the late seventeenth century) provided the base for a study of Grillet's work and a remarkable arithmetic instrument he invented in 1678, using the idea of Napier's bones.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [History of Computing] -- R. Grillet, hardware, J. Napier, people Additional Key Words and Phrases: Napier's bones, mechanical calculators, W. Schickard, S. Morland, G. Schott, A. Kircher, E. Lucas, H. Genaille

Introduction

This paper was motivated by my discovery of a previously unknown manuscript giving some details of the construction and use of the arithmetic instrument invented by Rene Grillet in 1678. The manuscript came to light when I was conducting a systematic search of the Crawford Library in an attempt to locate the books once owned by Charles Babbage (Williams 1981). Although scholars knew that Grillet produced a machine for performing simple arithmetic operations, details of the construction and use of this device were not available. In fact, very little is known about Grillet or his work. He is occasionally listed as having constructed a calculating machine (d'Ocagne 1905), but no details are in the standard biographical sources, and even the French specialist sources (Tardy 1971) are of no help in providing anything except an acknowledgment that he once existed.

This paper surveys the development of different types of calculating machines that have made use of the idea of Napier's "bones."...