Incas Used Early Computers and Decimal System
ITHACA, NY (IPN)-The Inca Indians were already using a mechanical
precursor to modern day computers by the time the Spanish conquistador
Pizarro invaded Peru.
The nation used a system called quipus, or "talking strings,"
that were capable of doing the basic operations of the larger
and more complicated 20th century machines, according to an article
by Ruth Rodriguez Sotomayor.
"A string made of llama wool represented the principal concept
that they (the Incas) wished to record. Other smaller, different
colored strings were tied to it to indicate the characteristics
of the main concept," wrote Sotomayor. "The smaller
strings were knotted."
The knots referred to numbers and colors of the strings which
comprised the data bank. The Incas recorded their information
using a decimal system, long before the system became known in
Europe after the French Revolution.
By using the quipu, the Incas had access to a wide range of information
including population census, crops harvested in various communities,
and the amount of wool and grain in the storage houses.
After several years of training with the quipus, the mathematicians
were divided into groups and were sent to four different regions
to collect information on astronomy, engineering and agriculture.
The Inca mathematicians, who used the quipus, were trained at
the Inca's seat of learning, the Yachayhuasi-an institution for
the ruling circles located in Cuzco. Every year, a copy of the
collected information was sent to the Cuzco Palace to inform the
Inca leaders about the empire, said Sotomayor.
Return to Studies at The
Return to The Indian Reader
HOW TO CONTACT US
P.O. Box 59