On This Day

Shakuntala Devi

Writer and Mathematician Shakuntala Devi

Profession: Writer and Mathematician


Why Famous: Devi was popularly known as the 'Human Calculator' for her feats of mental calculation. Her father was a magician and performer who discovered his daughters talent while teaching her a card trick when she was three years old.

Following this he left his own career behind and toured with her, showing off her immense capacity for mental calculation. At age six, Devi displayed her talents at the University of Mysore, still without any formal training, and then, 1944, the two moved to London.

Since then, Devi has toured Europe and America. Most notably, she achieved a Guinness World Record after correctlying multiplying two 13-digit numbers, chosen at random, in 28-seconds: "the result is so far superior to anything previously reported that it can only be described as unbelievable."

Born: November 4, 1929
Birthplace: Bangalore, Mysore, British India

Generation: Silent Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Snake
Star Sign: Scorpio

Died: April 21, 2013 (aged 83)
Cause of Death: Heart and kidney complications caused by severe respiratory problems

Historical Events

  • 1980-06-18 Indian "human computer" Shakuntala Devi sets a world record by mentally multiplying two random 13-digit numbers in 28 seconds; She correctly answered that 7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779 = 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 !

Biographies and Sources