The pascaline was the first mechanical calculator that worked by means of a series of wheels and gears . It was initially known as the “ arithmetic machine ”, later it was called the “ pascaline wheel ” and, finally, it got its name from pascaline. This mathematical device had the ability to add, subtract, although it did not do it directly, the machine was also capable of multiplying and dividing by means of repetitive subtraction or addition.

What is pascaline?

The pascalina was the first calculator that was invented in the world, it worked by means of a series of wheels and different gears , which could add, subtract, divide and multiply by means of repetitive subtractions and additions.

  • Pascalin characteristics
  • History
  • Who Invented Pascaline
  • Functioning

Pascalin characteristics

  • It could only do addition and subtraction, with numbers entered by manipulating its dials.
  • Pascalin is the size of a shoebox and is therefore easy to carry.
  • It has eight different windows at the top.
  • Inside each of the windows, you can see a small drum with the digits of the result.
  • Each drum is made up of two different rows of numbers .
  • In front of the windows there are eight adjustment mechanisms .
  • Depending on the place value of the quantity to be added, the wheels will move according to the positions as they correspond to the value of the corresponding digit.
  • Each wheel of the top of the pascalina has a shaft having a gear of crown horizontal. The gear is transmitting the rotation of the wheel to a vertical crown type gear.
  • The subtraction could not be done by turning the machine wheel in the opposite direction, but had to be done by an indirect method known as complements nines , which is done by turning the wheels in the same direction.
  • The first Pascalina could only use 5-digit numbers, but then Pascal developed 6-digit and 8-digit versions.


The history of computing dates back to ancient times . The most remote example is the abacus, an instrument for adding that is still used in parts of Japan and Eastern Europe . The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal invented the world’s first mechanical calculator in 1642 , with the aim of helping his father, who was the local tax inspector . The machine worked perfectly, was able to bring the numbers from the units column to the tens column by means of a ratchet mechanism and was fully functional. Blaise decided to call herPascalina . Gottfried Leibniz worked on perfecting Pascal’s addition machine, and tried to improve it so that it was capable of multiplying and dividing, achieving this objective by placing a mechanical device called a Leibniz cylinder . After having perfected this machine, Leibniz focused his efforts on creating a method that would allow converting the decimal system into a binary-based one . The first use that pascalina had was in the French Hacienda , where Pascal’s father worked.

Who Invented Pascaline

The pascalina was invented by Blaise Pascal in 1642. He was the son of an official whose job was to collect taxes . Pascal, who occasionally helped his father write his official reports, raised the problem of how to help his father with the different arithmetic operations in which large numbers of numbers had to be added.


The pascaline was shaped like a shoebox and was low and somewhat elongated. In the internal part there were a series of toothed wheels that were connected to each other, thus forming a transmission chain , in such a way that, when one wheel turned completely on its axis, it made the next advance one degree. These different wheels that were inside the pascaline had the function of representing the decimal numbering system . Each wheel consisted of ten steps, so it was also marked with numbers ranging from 9 to 0. In total it consisted of eight wheels, six of them were used to represent whole numbersand two more wheels, on the far left, to represent decimal numbers . With this arrangement, integers between 0’01 and 999,999’99 could be handled. By means of a crank , the sprockets could turn to achieve in this way addition or subtraction . If you needed to subtract a number, what you had to do was run the crank in the opposite direction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *