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This enlightened ecclesiastic was successively a schoolmaster at Rheims (where he introduced the abacus, the Arabic numerals, the clock, the organ, and the globe), archbishop of Ravenna, and, eventually, Pope Sylvester II., to which position he was elevated by the decree of the Emperor Otho III.
Patron and prelate died of poison shortly after, about A. D. 1002.
Gerbert was probably the first to use in a Christian school the nine digits and a cipher, which proved, as William of Malmesbury said, a great blessing to the sweating calculators.
A translation of Ptolemy, published in Spain in 1136, used the Hindoo notation.
The Hindoo numerals were introduced into England about A. D. 1253.
The accounts of the kings of England, previous to the Norman Conquest—and the same is probably true of most contemporary European nations—were calculated by rows of coin disposed as in the abacus, that is, placed in parallel rows which represented gradually increasing denominations in th