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William Oughtred
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Mathematician
    (March 5, 1575-June 30, 1660)
    Born in Eton, England, United Kingdom
    Anglican clergyman and mathematician
    Rector of Albury (1610-60)
    Wrote 'Clavis Mathematicae' ('Key to Mathematics,' 1631)
    Invented the slide rule
    He was a believer in astrology and alchemy, who at the time of his death believed he was on the verge of discovering the philosopher's stone that could transmute base metals into gold.
    He described the slide rule to just a handful of acquaintances, eventually leading to a dispute in which one of his former students claimed to be the inventor.
    He allegedly died of joy upon hearing that Charles II had been restored to the throne.
    Slide rules were difficult to learn to use and fell into disuse once pocket calculators became ubiquitous.
    He taught mathematics and refused payment, saying he was already adequately compensated as a clergyman.
    When he found no existing math textbooks to his liking, he wrote 'Clavis Mathematicae' to fill the void.
    'Clavis Mathematicae' was praised by mathematicians such as Isaac Newton for avoiding the verbosity of other math books.
    He introduced 'x' as the symbol for multiplication.
    For centuries, slide rules were the most commonly used calculating tool in science and engineering.

Credit: C. Fishel


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