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Wilhelm Schickard was born in Herrenberg, Germany, in 1592, and became a renowned astronomer, mathematician, linguist, and Lutheran minister. He is credited with building in 1623 the world's first true mechanical **calculator**, his "calculating clock" (a somewhat misleading moniker, as the device did not tell time). Schickard's hand-powered calculator was quite sophisticated, especially considering that it was the first of its kind. It was about the size of a typewriter and could add, subtract, multiply, and divide. It operated on six-digit numbers and rang a bell to announce **overflow** (i.e., a calculation result too large to represent on its readout).

Calculating aids akin to the **slide rule** had been built before (e.g., **Napier's rods**), so what justifies calling Schickard's clock the first "true" calculator? In using Napier's rods and similar devices, the **operator** rotates marked cylinders or slides marked sticks past each other and...

This section contains 412 words(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page) |