Fibonacci was a mediaeval Steve Jobs

Try to imagine a day without numbers. Never mind a day, try to imagine getting through the first hour without numbers: no alarm clock, no time, no date, no TV or radio, no stock market report or sports results in the newspapers, no bank account to check. It’s not clear exactly where you are waking up either, for without numbers modern housing would not exist. The fact is, our lives are totally dependent on numbers. You may not have “a head for figures,” but you certainly have a head full of figures. …

How did we — as a species and as a society — become so familiar with and totally reliant on these abstractions our ancestors invented just a few thousand years ago? …

Prior to the thirteenth century, the only Europeans who were aware of the system were, by and large, scholars, who used it solely to do mathematics. Traders recorded their numerical data using Roman numerals, and performed calculations either by a fairly elaborate and widely used fingers procedure or with a mechanical abacus. That state of affairs started to change soon after 1202, the year a young Italian man, Leonardo of Pisa — the man who many centuries later a historian would dub “Fibonacci” — completed the first general purpose arithmetic book in the West, Liber abbaci, that explained the “new” methods in terms that ordinary people could understand — tradesmen and businessmen as well as schoolchildren. …

What Leonardo did was every bit as revolutionary as the personal computer pioneers who in the 1980s took computing from a small group of “computer types” and made computers available to, and usable by, anyone. Like them, most of the credit for inventing and developing the methods Leonardo described in Liber abbaci goes to others, in particular Indian and Arabic scholars over many centuries. Leonardo’s role was to “package” and “sell” the new methods to the world.

link: Fibonacci’s ‘Numbers': The Man Behind The Math : NPR

Fibonacci is one of those characters who seems tailor-made to show children what maths can be about. One of the things I look forward to with a new maths class is telling them about the Fibonacci series – 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 … – and how it links bunny rabbits, a greek letter phi and topics as diverse as human anatomy, Stradivarius violins, the Mona Lisa, snail shells and the Parthenon.

The above quote is from Keith Devlin’s Man of Numbers, a biography of Fibonacci. And it’s now winging it’s way to my Kindle. Looking forward to reading it!