Early Polynesians may have been first ‘computer scientists’ in 1500 AD

London, Dec. 17: Researchers have claimed that the inhabitants of Mangareva island in French Polynesia developed a decimal and binary number hybrid to make mental arithmetic easier.

Andrea Bender and Sieghard Beller at the University of Bergen in Norway studied the Mangarevan language, dating back to AD 1500, or even earlier.

The duo said that, as in the decimal system, the islanders had words for the numbers 1 through 9. Beyond those, they only had words for 10 (takau), 20 (paua), 40 (tataua) and 80 (varu) – the binary powers multiplied by 10, asserting that the early Polynesians used the binary system to count in 10s, but added 1 to 9 in the normal way, News Scientist revealed.

Bender said that the system may originally have come about as the early settlers tallied culturally important items like s coconuts and octopuses in groups of 1, 2, 4 and 8.

However, Mangarevans also traded items over long distances – which included as far as Hawaii – and in bulk, so would have had needed a method to efficiently count much larger numbers. (ANI)