John Hardy has a magnificent entry at Laputan Logic, explaining in more detail than I’ve ever seen how “Arabic” numbers evolved. I won’t bother trying to permalink, just scroll down to Tuesday, June 03 (and down past the “Fun with numbers” box, depending on your tolerance for whimsy); as usual, he has lavish and highly informative illustrations. (Warning: the page is slow to load.)


  1. Wow! Fantastic! Fantastique?

  2. LH– This reminds me. Has anyone ever figured out the numbering system in the Codex Seraphianus? I remember playing around with it when I borrowed a friend’s copy, but I never got anywhere before having to return it. –jfb

  3. I can’t guarantee its accuracy, since I’ve never gotten into the Codex Seraphinianus, but this page provides a detailed explanation, beginning: “The number system in which page numbers are written is, on the whole, base-21. This implies that a number is expressed as a sum of what I’ll call scorones (i.e., twenty-ones) and ones. (You may think of scorone as an Italian-style augmentative of score or a contraction of score+one.)…”

  4. LH– Thanks for the link. I’m going to take a look at a friend’s CS tonight. –jfb

  5. uh yeh it is slow

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