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These 100 PC Moments and 400 PC Pioneers were vital stepping stones
that were essential elements in the evolution of the PC and the Net.

But where to start? Numbers!

The use of numbers is said to distinguish mankind from other animals; natural scientists do suggest that birds can actually discern numbers.  Birds recognise one, two or three things any larger number is handled with the concept of ‘many’; or flock?

We were also content with that simplistic numeric approach until civilisation found us trading labour and skills within an ever-expanding social community.  We needed to evolve a broader concept.

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Mesopotamian Agriculture

The Mesopotamians met this challenge first and it was they who developed a system of numbers, in fact a series of them.  By 3,000 BCE the dozen or so separate systems that had evolved had become integrated.

Based on the root of 60, it proved to be very useful, divisible by twelve integers – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30 and 60 itself. 

A day was set as the unit of time, thirty days summed to a month, and 360 days to a year.  It is of course from the same system that we express time and angles using the root 60.

India introduced positional numbers rather than stand-alone integers and gave zero proper status as a number.  The Egyptians introduced the base 10 in around 3,100 BCE.  Perhaps this is why their vassals had Ten Commandments? 

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Roman Organisation

1000 BCE The Romans developed a system using a series of seven symbols that could be scored or scribed and combined to express any number using I, V, X, L, C, D and M.

ASIDE: During 1990 we were preparing to launch the Property Business Show 1991 and the creative designers came up with an image of a pillared Greco-Roman building with the roman numerals for 1991 across its frieze.  But how was 1991to be written?  MDCCCCLXXXXI was not very elegant, MDCCCCIXC was incorrect positional usage and MIXM or IXMM felt wrong.  We contacted the British Museum for an authoritative view; they pondered and confessed they just did not know.
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Moorish Design

The Moors moved across from North Africa to occupy Spain, from 700 to 1492 CE, bringing with them their modern number system.  This spread throughout Europe from the 11th century onwards.

The metric system was introduced on 10 December 1799 at the time of the French Revolution; and it spread with Napoleon’s conquests.  It established the metre for length, the litre for volume, the gram for mass, the are for area – and the stère for volumes of firewood?

ASIDE: Why did things become so complicated in the UK? 

Sixteen ounces to a pound, fourteen pounds to a stone, eight stones to a hundredweight, 2240 pounds in a ton. 

Eight pints to a gallon, eight quarts to a peck, four pecks in a bushel, thirty-six gallons to the barrel. 

Four farthings to the penny, twelve pence in a shilling, twenty shillings to a pound, and twenty-one shillings in a guinea. 

Plus, twelve inches to the foot, three feet to a yard, six feet to a fathom, sixty-six feet in a chain, 220 yards in a furlong, 1760 yards in a mile, 43,560 square feet in an acre and 640 acres per square mile.

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