“Soroban” is a Japanese word. In English, it’s “abacus”.
Our Japanese ancestors had used it to calculate. So we can say that soroban is an ancient calculating machine. Actually I had been studying soroban at a private soroban lesson, when I was an elementary schoolchild. Soroban is replaced by computers, and not used often in the present time, though…
It is said that soroban originate in Babylonia in about B.C.2000. Into Japan, it was introduced through China in the 14th century.
Recently I found soroban in a small village which I’m living in Kyrgyzstan. It is used in a small grocery store. I asked a grocer woman to permit to take pictures.
Japanese soroban is separated 2 parts in a bar. In one side there is a bead which signifies “5”. In the other side there are four beads signifying “4”. Soroban in above pictures obviously has a different feature.
Possibly this type of soroban was introduced not from China. Kyrgyzstan had been locating in the Silk Road. So, soroban could be came by the Silk Road from the west.
Of course, there are electronic calculators in Kyrgyzstan too. But I was pleased to see that soroban has still been used.