Having been a child prodigy, Blaise Pascal grew up to become one of France’s most celebrated mathematicians and physicists. Influenced by his father’s role as a tax accountant, at the age of 18 Pascal invented the first mechanical calculator – this was in the year 1642! The calculator used metal wheel dials to perform additions and subtractions, and it was also able to perform more complicated tasks, such as division and multiplication. Incredibly, it used similar techniques to those employed by modern computers. After making 50 prototypes of his invention, he presented them to the public. This led to King Louis XIV of France granting him exclusive rights to design and manufacture calculating machines. Although the calculator didn’t become a successful commercial venture, it marked a step forward in employing the use of machines to make boring tasks easier.