Shakuntala Devi – The First Human Computer, Mental Calculator

Introduction of the First Human-Computer

sakuntala deviA Genius from an early age, a motivational speaker, an honest writer, a living speculate, an internationally renowned mathematician SHAKUNTALA DEVI, an inspiration for many.  She was a mental calculator, popularly known as the “human computer“. But she abhors being called the ‘human computer’. She strongly believes that people have minds better than any computer. Her passionate interest in exploring the learning capacity of the human mind led her to evolve the concept of ‘mind dynamics’. Her skill brought her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records.

She wrote a number of books and novels as well as texts about mathematics, puzzles, and astrology in her later years. She wrote the book The World of Homosexuals to treat homosexuality in a positive light and considered as the first study of homosexuality in India.

Life Journey of Sakuntala Devi

She was born in a Bangalore, Mysore state, to an orthodox Kannada Brahmin middle class family. Her father takes up arms against becoming a temple priest and instead joined a circus. He learned his daughter’s ability to memorize numbers while teaching her a card trick when she was about three years old. Her father took her on road shows that displayed her skills in the calculation. She did this without any formal education. At the age of six, she demonstrated her arithmetic abilities at the University of Mysore.

Her Performance

Day by day this little girl became a great personality and she traveled the entire world demonstrating her arithmetic talents. She performance in 1976 in New York. In 1977, she attended Southern Methodist University; she answered the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in 50 seconds. On 18th June 1980, she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers picked at randomly by the Computer Department of Imperial College London and she correctly answered in 28 seconds. This event is record in the 1982 Guinness Book of Records. She explained many methods in her book- Figuring: The Joy of Numbers, which is still in print.

Sakuntala devi human computer
Problems solved by Ms. Devi during a demonstration in New York in 1976, as they appeared in The New York Times. (Two of the answers to the third question, however, are wrong. Jan. 14, 1935, was Monday, not Tuesday; and Dec. 14, 1935, was Saturday, not Sunday)

In 1977, she wrote The World of Homosexual. And started the first study of homosexuality in India. In the documentary For Straights Only, she clarified that her interest in the topic was because of her marriage to a homosexual man. Her desire to look at homosexuality more closely to understand it.

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Personal Life of Sakunatal Devi

She returned to India in the mid-1960s and married Paritosh Banerji, an IAS officer from Kolkata. But this relation not lasted long, they were divorced in 1979. Shakuntala Devi returned to Bangalore in 1980s.

  • Further, she works as a mental calculator; Shakuntala Devi was an astrologerand an author of several books, along with cookbooks and novels.
  • Last days: In April 2013, she was admitted to a hospital in Bangalore with respiratory problems. Over the following two weeks she suffered from complications of the heart and kidneys. She died in the hospital on 21st April 2013.

On 4th November 2013, Shakuntala Devi was honored with a Google Doodle.