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Calculating by rods

John Napier is famous for his invention of logarithms but he also devised a much simpler system of calculation. By arranging 'times tables' onto strips or rods he eased multiplication and division for those with little or no mathematical training. Portable pocket sets became popular and were made in many formats and materials. The use of ivory [2] led to the nickname 'Napier's bones'. Napier's rods were incorporated into larger arithmetical instruments [5] and were also a model for more specialist devices: [6] is used for multiplying large numbers.

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