Who invented the numbers

Origin of the Numbers

Reading time: 7 min

People had long ago understood that numbers can be of great help, or that they need numbers. For example, when swapping objects, counting berries, mushrooms, nuts, animals, etc.

With one hand you could count 5 things (one finger stood for one thing). You could count things with two hands. But not anymore.If there were more, then this was a problem!

People were able to solve this problem by using things like stones or sticks to count. For example, a stone was placed for each sheep. In this way, the problem of the limited finger counting solved.

Quantities were first given with dashes |||| recorded as historical finds show. The following illustration shows ancient bones on which lines for counting have been scratched.


The use of lines had also solved the problem of limited countability (only ten fingers), because people could now use any number of lines:.

This was particularly easy with the development of papyrus around 5000 years ago, which could be written on.

However, since recounting is time-consuming and large numbers require a large number of dashes, better solutions were sought.

A shorthand was invented for the Number of strokes: The numbers.

The Babylonians were the first to invent such a number system (around 3,100 BC). They used a total of 59 characters, with each character representing a lot.

In the 1st - 4th centuries the Indians developed a system based on only character based. In the 9th century, the Arabs adopted this number system (system of ten) and changed the way the characters were written.

Our current number system emerged from this Arabic notation (we call it the “decimal system”).

The following illustration shows how the numbers and digits have developed from the notation in use today.

With the number signs, many things could be recorded in a short notation.

As an example: Instead of writing: “A owes B in total |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Sheep. ”It was now possible to express the same thing with just two characters:“ A owes B a total of sheep. ”

It is also interesting to know that the Roman numerals were used for a long time. It was not until the 10th century that the so-called “Arabic numerals” were introduced in Europe, ie the numerals that we know and use today:.

In Europe the Arabic numerals were spread by the mathematician Fibonacci (with the arithmetic book "Liber abbaci" from the year 1202).

Incidentally, in Germany the Arabic numerals did not gain acceptance until the 15th century.

Advantages of the decimal system

The digits can be used to quickly form large numbers.

Any numbers can be combined with the digits.

Each digit of a digit indicates a value. For example, for the number, the first corresponds to the, the second digit corresponds to and the third digit corresponds to.

You can see relatively quickly what the value is.

Large numbers such as are quickly noted, transferred and read (only a few characters are required).

Counting as before is no longer necessary.

Nice myth

Information is circulating on the Internet that the angles created by the shape would indicate for each number the number it stands for:

However, this is a myth (i.e., untrue). Compare this post (math lounge).