Many people always wonder why the numbers look the way they do. Maybe you thought about it when you were bored sitting in math class. So, to finally help you find the answer, we have prepared it for you. As they say, you learn something new every day!

The first attempts to represent numbers worked a little something like this!

The sumerians fixed this by creating different symbols with different values

This was how things were until this guy appeared:


This charming fellow was the greatest mathematician that ever lived, but in order to do math as well as he did, he had to improve the representation of numbers themselves, so he made these symbols…

You can tell 1, 2 and 3 right away, and maybe you found 6 and 9 as well, but other than that, the graph looks very different from what we know today.

The values of the first numbers were given by their angles

This was fixed in two ways

And speaking of train wrecks, let’s get to the other numbers:

To help you understand what is happening I’m gonna let you see the invisible line that divides them.

The circle below the line has a value of 5 because it’s like a closed fist. When it’s on the line it has a value of 10, because raising your fists gets results.

To get from 5 to 7, you add angles from the circle

If you want to get from eight to ten you subtract angles facing down

Eventually, the lower part of eight became closed, making it easier to write. The circle was reserved for zero. Then the zero found a partner to make ten.

But what made five and seven what they are today?

In these numbers, the position of the line was still important so it began to be used. But this increased the number of strokes necessary to write the symbols.

To reduce the number of strokes and make it easier to write, the circles gradually began to change.

The five got the right angle to distinguish it from six.

If you ever wondered why some people put this thing on the seven, it’s to honor what’s left of the angles. But the circle in seven wasn’t so lucky.



Based on materials from