Early counting devices could be defined as devices used to perform arithmetic operations
before the advent of modern civilization.
Counting devices were the means of counting and calculation used in the early ages. They
include the use of fingers, feet, toes, pebbles, grains, sticks, cowries, etc. for different
counting needs. The major problem with these devices is that they cannot be used for
counting large numbers efficiently, they also occupy large space, and they waste time. The
computer was developed as a result of the efforts of scientists who wanted to reduce the
problems encountered while counting and calculating using early counting devices.
1. Fingers and toes: the ten fingers and ten toes were used for giving account of days,
trading and children. The early people also used feet to measure land.
2. Pebbles : pebbles are small round stones that were used for counting. Grains from
the farm such as corn, beans and rice were also used for counting.
3. Cowries: these are brightly coloured molluscs with a central toothed opening. They
were used as money and for other counting needs.
4. Sticks: these include the canes, clubs and shaped woods that were used for
measuring land areas, and for other counting and measuring needs.
5. Writing on the wall: in early ages man learnt to use objects like charcoal, mud,
limestone and chalk to write stroke on the wall for counting. This practice led to the
development of writing in figures and letters.