TIL that in 1299, Florence banned the use of Arabic numerals in banking, and in 1348 Padua outlawed zero. The bankers switched to having two set of books: one with Roman numerals to show authorities, and another – with Arabic, to do calculations.

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

You mean II sets of books.


For those who don’t realise, Arabic Numerals are the numbers we use regularly in most western nations. In some Arabic speaking countries the numerals used are called Eastern Arabic or Indian Arabic.


After all writing DCCCLXXXVIII is so much more practical than writing 888…


It sounds quite strange but the invention of the zero was actually quite groundbreaking in its day and enabled complex calculations to be done much more easily. The reason Roman numerals are such a pain to do calculations with is that it doesn’t use zeroes. There are plenty of videos on YouTube about the history of the zero and they are far more interesting than they have any right to be.


Quick: what’s two-in-a-hundred of CMXXVII?! And *no decimals!*