Abacus is an ancient calculating device invented in China. In the famous long painting scroll titled Along the River on the Pure Brightness Festival (Qingming Shang He Tu), Northern SongDynasty (960-1279) painter Zhang Zeduan depicted hundreds of people doing various businesses along the Bianhe River in the empire's capital Bianliang (today's Kaifeng of Henan province). In a drugstore, an abacus is seen on the counter. The abacus is a traditional symbol of business acumen.
Many domestic hlms and TV dramas would give a close-up shot of an abacus, then slowly pulls out to reveal the accountant wearing a skullcap and a pair of glasses that has slid to the tip of the nose. In a drugstore smelling of the sweet and bitter traditional Chinese medicine, the druggist can be seen holding the steelyard in one hand and clicking away on the abacus on the other. In Sidney Sheldon's novel If Tomorrow Comes, when Jeff promotes a "mini-calculator", he says it is "absolutely reasonable, free of errors, energy-saving and requires no maintenance in ten years It turns out that the "mini-calculator" is an abacus from China.