Napier's Bones, c.1690.

Made:
c. 1690 in England

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Set of Napier's rods in boxwood case. England, United Kingdom. c. 1690. SCM - Mathematics John Napier, the inventor of
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Set of Napier's rods in boxwood case. England, United Kingdom. c. 1690. SCM - Mathematics John Napier, the inventor of
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Set of Napier's bones in boxwood, in a boxwood case. John Napier (1550-1617), discoverer of logarithms, also created
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Set of Napier's bones in boxwood, in a boxwood case. John Napier (1550-1617), discoverer of logarithms, also created
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Set of Napier's rods in boxwood case

John Napier, the inventor of logarithms, also invented this aid to calculation known as 'Napier's Bones' in 1617. The 'bones' consist of a set of rectangular rods, each marked with a counting number at the top, and the multiples of that number down their lengths. When aligned against the row of multiples as shown, any multiple of the top number can be read off from right to left by adding the digits in each parallelogram in the appropriate row. Multiplication is thus reduced to addition.

Set of Napier's bones in boxwood, in a boxwood case. John Napier (1550-1617), discoverer of logarithms, also created this popular calculating tool known as Napier's cylindrical 'rods' or 'bones'. Napier's bones reduced muliplication to a sequence of simple additions and could also be used for division and to calculate square roots.

On display

Science Museum: Mathematics: The Winton Gallery

If you are visiting to see this object, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.

Details

DisplayLocation:
Science Museum, Mathematics: The Winton Gallery
Category:
Mathematics
Object Number:
1905-111
type:
napier's bones, c.1690., napier's bones
credit:
Major-General H.P. Babbage
status:
Permanent collection

Cite this page

Rights

We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.


Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero


Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data

Download

Download catalogue entry as json

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.