Robert Fulghum's "Thoughts on an Abacus" appears in his collection of essays entitled All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In this essay, Fulghum defines the abacus though comparing it to different things.
First, Fulghum states that the abacus is simply a "centipede-like thing" used for decorating one's walls. Second, regarding function, he states that the abacus is a collective of an "adding machine, calculator, and computer."
He goes on to state that the abacus is not only a functional tool. In fact, Fulghum finds the abacus beautiful. He also believes that the more the abacus is handled the more beautiful it becomes. Fulghum leaves readers with a final perplexing thought: is the abacus "made lovely by its usefulness" or "made useful by its beauty."