Gunter's Navigational Scale

Objects from this contributor

Gunter's Navigational Scale

After Briggs popularised Napier's idea of logarithms, Gunter had the brilliant idea of mapping logarithms onto a line in which the linear distance is represented by the logarithm. A simple piece of wood engraved with expertly positioned lines took the sting out of laborious calculations. Initially multiplication and division were completed with the aid of dividers. Gunter's navigational scale was used by the Royal Navy up to the 1840s. Eventually,(1630c)two Günter's scales were juxtaposed to make an even more powerful calculator-the slide rule. The initial use of the slide rule was used by Customs and Excise to calculate the duty due on spirits and by tradesmen, carpenters, glaziers and stone masons to calculate the price of raw materials. After Mannheim (1850c) regularised the slide rule's scales many designers, draftsmen, engineers and scientists used the slide rule on a regular basis. Every significant invention of the 20th century up to about 1975 was completed with the aid of a slide rule - the Spitfire and Hurricane, radar, the atom bomb, the Concorde, etc. Even the Apollo missions were equipped with 6" slide rules to get them to earth safely in case their computer failed.

Comments are closed for this object

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline

Location
Culture
Period

circa 1760

Theme
Size
H:
61.0cm
W:
5.0cm
D:
0.5cm
Colour
Material

View more objects from people in Norfolk.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.