The machine is called the 'Pascaline'.
Pascal according to his memoirs develops the machine because he had to help his father with his work as tax receiver. The calculations are done with a kind of Abax, using little stones to add and subtract. This is boredom Pascal said and started to make the a machine that later became known as the Pascaline.
The genius of the machine is that Pascal realized how the tens and hundreds could be carried This had to be solved first if one could work with numbers larger than 10 with the help of a machine.
Pascal used the following principle:
When a gear with ten teeth made one rotation (tens) a second gear shift one tooth until that gear rotated ten times (hundreds) that shifts another gear (thousands) etc. This principle is still used in odometers in cars, pumps of petrol stations, and your electricity meters at home.
A nice simplified animation is found on: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/therese.eveilleau/pages/truc_mat/textes/pascaline.htm#haut
The numbers to be added are set up via some turning discs on the bottom. After crunching a handle the answer appeared in a window. In this way the machine only could add. Subtracting required some adaptations to it so it counted "backwards". Division and multiplication can be done by repeating the adding or subtractions. This is the way most mechanical calculators still work!
The introduction of the Pascaline is no commercial success. Compared with the cost of labor the Pascaline is too expensive. Apart from that there is a pressure on the employers by the white collar workers to dump the machine afraid as they are to loose their jobs.
There were 50 Pascalines built. And some are on display in the Conservatoir
des arts et métiers, 292 Rue Saint Martin, at Paris, and the Science
Museum at London.
Blaise Pascal is in his time a wonder child on mathematics and it
implementations. His invention of the counting machine grew
out of necessity but also opened the way for more complicated counting
machines by later generations of inventors.
|Last Updated on 2013-03-14||For suggestions please mail the editors|
Footnotes & References
|1||Frank Hayes 1999|
|2||main body of text based on: WHGB|
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