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In modern arithmetic textbooks, students are taught about alternate numeric bases. The notation for indicating the base of a number is to attach the base as a subscript. The subscript is itself a numeral in base ten.

My question is, when was that notation first invented? Who invented it? Where did it first appear in print?

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    $\begingroup$ This is on topic here, but may be better received at History of Science and Mathematics $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jun 11 '15 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ I suspect this is a fairly modern convention, necessitated by explanations of computer arithmetic. The use of base ten (in positional notation) goes back to Hindu mathematics (India), and was adopted in Europe during the Renaissance, with no need to have a way of designating an alternative radix. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Jun 11 '15 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ Cross-posted on HSM. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jun 14 '15 at 20:31
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I have a copy of Handbook of Mathematical Tables and Formulas, 5th ed., by Richard Stevens Burington, Ph.D., copyright 1973. It contains a section about alternate bases, including a description of this subscript notation. So it must predate 1973.

I found an archive copy online of the 1st edition, copyright 1933, which lacks this section, among many others. Apparently many topics were added to this work in the intervening 40 years. But this is not evidence that the subscript notation was invented during that period. It only shows that it rose enough in importance to get included in the Handbook.

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    $\begingroup$ It seems you accidentally created a second account when registering. It may be possible to merge the accounts, see the help centre for instructions. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Jun 14 '15 at 21:22

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