The invention of the decimal point dates back to at least 1440

Giovanni Bianchini, a Venetian merchant and mathematician, revolutionized calculations with the invention of the comma in the 15th century. In 1440, Bianchini used the decimal point in his work, making astronomical calculations significantly easier.

Bianchini’s innovative use of decimals was groundbreaking for his time. He worked for the Este family, managing their wealth and drawing up horoscopes. At that time, European astronomers used the Babylonian system of sixty, which posed challenges for multiplication and other calculations. Bianchini’s approach to decimals involved developing a decimal system for measuring distances and dividing units into ten equal parts.

Mathematics historian Glen Van Brummelen discovered Bianchini’s work while studying his treatise. Bianchini’s use of decimals was groundbreaking for that time and even influenced later astronomers. Using decimals in calculations made the process much simpler than working with fractions.

A significant discovery was that Bianchini’s use of the decimal point predated a German astronomer’s observation of it by 150 years. His trigonometric tables, which combined degrees and the 60 system with decimals, showcased his unique approach to astronomical calculations. Ultimately, Bianchini’s work demonstrated the power and simplicity of decimal numbers in mathematical calculations.

In conclusion, Giovanni Bianchini’s invention of the comma revolutionized calculations by making them significantly easier to perform using decimals instead of fractions. His innovative use of decimals paved the way for future advancements in mathematics and astronomy by simplifying complex calculations and making them more accessible to everyone.

By Samantha Johnson

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