A Program on BBC 4 regarding amazing methods of Ethiopian calculation ends up making a glorious mess

The story of amazing methods of ancient Ethiopian calculation first broke on BBC 4, and this story led Addis Admass to write a story titled ‘’Ethiopians claimed to be the inventors of computers,” but a genuine look at the documentary can construct magnificently different conclusion

The writer took a brief conclusion of a four minuet report which reads as follows “It is this system (methods of Ethiopian calculation) that powers today’s’ computers…… The solution they (Ethiopians) came up with is central to the way we live today. The ways they perform that calculation is almost exactly the same with the working method of a computer. Amazingly it seems centuries before the invention of computers Ethiopian traders crack the code that lies behind the modern the age

The article in the newspaper has tried to present this brief conclusion of a four minute documentary in a positive light, or distract the reader from the fact that we Ethiopians never invented computer. Here is the video for those who have not seen the video.

This is a classic example of how popular science is often triumphalist, presenting simple facts as a set of completed answers, when in reality much of what gets published makes mess,

For me this report is just spin. But I am not saying that this method of ancient Ethiopian calculation is not appreciable. I am saying claiming to have invented computer however requires a bigger research and some serious investigation.

I believe there is no enforcement to believe for any of this claims, everyone is free to ignore it, and commonly enough – as with newspapers, politicians, and quacks – uncomfortable facts are cheerfully spun away. But how long will Ethiopians continue to be the first in every innovation?



  1. who the fuck r u ? …… mr criticizer huh !! plz try to be proud of urself … dont be stupid as hole …… u think that writng such kind of crap makes u a forigner … shit … u r just a shit habesha nothing else …….. and u will be stupid habesh for ever ,,….. Ass hole ….

  2. Hi, Edalk thank you very much for the information and the ideas forwarded. I wonder what is left to be claimed by Ethiopian’s? Before in a rush to come up with this little information and hasty concussion it is better to look for more supporting evidence and deep research.

    @ladyisee, Do you think it is right to use such words as a means of your critics? It is better for you to put your points straight forward than trying to devaluate in such despicable way. I doubts if you have touched a computer let along being educated. Don’t be a real habesha change is inevitable please try to be part of it.

      1. Okay we OBAMA! take it easy! we already know that you can curse “in English”! The only reason u said those things is because u want exposure and u got it so lay-off! “Mr. Change!.”

      2. Endalk, would you please delete this offensive feedbacks! LadyIsee is too stupid to change and this person doesn’t deserve to share ideas and opinions in your blog. Sorry ladyisee, you are cursing what you know from yourself!

  3. Hi dudu, I have no clue we have used such amazing and though simple method of calculation if so, what I agree we should say is that we[Ethiopians] can say that we have huge contribution to the invention of computer.Coz computers are devised from such mathematical theories, which is the foundation of computing and works in such fashion as viewed in the video.

    But as you mention it is not only this but tremendous endeavors and researches had been undergone to get the contemporary computers and still there is undergoing research for its betterment, considering this it is flattering to claim Ethiopians have invented computer but I think you have failed to notice the report didn’t mention that we have invented computer rather it claims “It is this system (methods of Ethiopian calculation) that powers today’s’ computers……

  4. Hi Endalk,
    Reading the first comment, appreciate you for your freedom of expression.
    When we come to the point, it very amazing, I liked it so much. I don’t get why they say it bizarre. For me this one is even more logical than our usual way of calculation, (“1 alegn bla bla”); why alegn? Alegn is equivalent to taking the next digit (in base-10 a multiplication by 10; and in base-2 by 2 the one our fore grandfathers were using before the rest of the world) .
    Follow the steps, you will see why they cancel those even column.
    for instance 25X30,
    25*30 => 25————30
    =(1+24)*30=24*30+30– (here they left 30)
    and 24*30
    =12*2*30=12*60=> 12—————–60
    =6*2*60=6*120=> 6——————120
    =3*2*120=3*240=> 3—————–240
    =(2*1+1)*240=2*240+240 (here 240)
    and 2*240
    2*240=1*480 => 1—————–480 (1-is odd, here 480)
    while expanding at every odd number step you left a number on the write side that is why they add only on the odd steps. Amazingly looking sophisticated but logical.
    I reckon, had we had learned this method before ,we would have said the modern way is bizarre.
    Though to claim that we invented computer is far from reality, to get the credit that we started this very logical and easier way of doing multiplication which even machines can understand is huge boost!
    You know Arabs are very proud of for inventing the concept of zero. of course they should! so don’t you think that it is a positive addition for being known to use such method?

  5. Hi Endalk

    I sometimes ask the same question. When are we going to learn to be humble, see where we are instead of boosting about our past achievements? The way I see it, we should be happy about the so many great things our forefathers have achieved but their achievements remain our ancestors’ history until we build upon it.

    Apart from that, we need to learn, appreciate and capitalize on the counting system.

  6. Thanks for blogging! I fully support your idea. it is one of the main media’s wrong strategy selling Ethiopia or/and Ethiopian products taking the credit of making it for the first time. Everytime, there is some new office opened, and claimed to be the first in Africa! Obviously, Ethiopia don’t know the world. I mean, not at all. We forgot the world that, at the end the world forgot us – these are not even my words. And then, stating something without having a real evidence doesn’t motivate anyone.

    After saying this, I think you need to moderate your blog comments (like Comments from ladyisee). This blog is too cool for the people like this person

  7. I know this is an old post but I’m tempted to comment (better late than never :P). Yes I’ve read that paper twice in two different conditions. Anyways, I still can’t believe the unprofessional “journalism” of that author. I still can’t figure out how he “proved” that we contributed on the invention of computers. After reading the title of the article, I thought the author was joking but after reading the article, I was shocked by his *extremely* unprofessional journalism. How on earth did we contribute? Where are the proves? It would have been at least debatable if Ethiopia was Japan. The only electrical machine that was “invented” by Ethiopians is the “injera mitad” and that is 200 years old technology, i.e pre-semiconductors era, that’s why it’s at least 10x more *inefficient*! Show me an Ethiopian calculator, let alone processor, and I will shut the F up!. People like ladyisee are the real problems of Ethiopia. We as a nation should know our weak points and try to improve them instead of boasting on other nation’s achievement. I’m glad the page didn’t get any hits on slashdot or reddit or it would have made a real mess! Ethiopia is one of the most under-developed nations of the world, that’s a fact that no one can deny. We should accept that fact and try to change that instead of coming with stupid excuses to make us feel better with our current situation. And @Mami, yes he didn’t conclude that on his article but he said that on his Title, he used the title as a bait, and bailed out on the article which in itself is also bad journalism.

    And you nailed it when you said
    “But how long will Ethiopians continue to be the first in every innovation?”
    Couldn’t have said it better, cheers!

  8. I wonder if you either hate Ethiopia or have an inferiority complex. BBC put it in a very clear English. The Report says modern age computing traces its roots to ancient Ethiopians. After all, all knowledge is cumulative. Scienc e and math developed that way. Just like Ethiopians, Persians, Egyptians, Chinese and many other ancient civilizations were knowledgable about so many scientific truths, which we take now for granted including astronomy & math. So, there is nothing wrong if our ancestors with their rudimentary ways did computing with the same excat process and logic that modern day computers are using. That should make you proud of your country and heritage, if you are truly Ethiopian! You are one of those who think in reverse and find a cynical way of seeing things esp. about our country. You don’t have pride. You probably believe in what the Ferenji does. If this same statement was made for a western country, you probably will not question its authenticity. I hope your mind will think straight!

    The writer took a brief conclusion of a four minuet report which reads as follows “It is this system (methods of Ethiopian calculation) that powers today’s’ computers…… The solution they (Ethiopians) came up with is central to the way we live today. The ways they perform that calculation is almost exactly the same with the working method of a computer. Amazingly it seems centuries before the invention of computers Ethiopian traders crack the code that lies behind the modern the age

  9. @Biadeg, you obviously don’t know anything about programming or computing for that matter. Our calculation method might be amazing … 3 thousand years ago, just as pythagorus’s theorem was amazing back then. Any worth programmer (Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie or the like) would “invent” our way of calculation in a day. Addis Admas tried to make it look like the holy grail of computing and took it way out of proportion. From the looks of your reply, you are one of the brain washed mass who like to believe that, we still rule the world. (And btw, we never did that too). And @Endalek, why didn’t you post my previous reply (it should about a year ago), while you approved silly replies like that of ladyisee. So much for “free speech”.

  10. I thought I posted your replay but which replay you are referring to ?
    I do not want to replay to the likes Biadeg so that I would not immerse myself
    in to non-stop storm of arguments and counterarguments

    Thank you!

  11. @Endalk, the reply I was talking about was posted using this email account. I posted it about 1 year ago. That’s how I got notified when Biadeg replied and that’s when I found out that it didn’t pass the moderation.

  12. Hi All,
    The guy has the right to his opinion as far as he justifies what he is saying. And no need to insult him as we are in the civilized world. I understand it’s annoying but we should rather attack his ideas with just evidence. For me what he says doesn’t make any sense. His phrases do clush with each other. He said “as if Ethiopinas never invented the computer” and in another paragraph he states how long “But how long will Ethiopians continue to be the first in every innovation?”. It seems, the guy “unnamed” for whatever reason, even we’re not sure he is Ethiopian, is unhappy with the news. In my opinion, in the modern world where each nation fights to paint his history, it’s more than foolish to let such a good portray slip. This guy, again if Ethiopian, may not even have the slightest idea about his history. He may not know that Ethiopia is the only country in Africa with it’s own letters & numbers. With all modernity of GPS etc, this guy may not know that no western country could come up with plausible idea how Axum was erected etc. So let’s forgive his ignorance and rather ask him what his point is.

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