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In 1494, the first book on double-entry accounting was published by Luca Pacioli. Since Pacioli was a Franciscan friar, he might be referred to simply as Friar Luca. While Friar Luca is regarded as the "Father of Accounting," he did not invent the system. Instead, he simply described a method used by merchants in Venice during the Italian Renaissance period. His system included most of the accounting cycle as we know it today. The first accounting book actually was one of five sections in Pacioli's mathematics book, titled Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita (Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportions). This section on accounting served as the world's only accounting textbook until well into the 16th century. Accounting practitioners in public accounting, industry, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as investors, lending institutions, business firms, and all other users for financial information are indebted to Luca Pacioli for his monumental role in the development of accounting.
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Luca Pacioli: The Father of Accounting
L. Murphy Smith
Professor of Accounting
Department of Accounting, Finance & Business Law
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
O’Conner Building - Room 333
6300 Ocean Drive, Unit 5808
Corpus Christi, TX 78412-5808
Email: Lawrence.smith@tamucc.edu
WORKING PAPER
Luca Pacioli: The Father of Accounting
Abstract
In 1494, the first book on double-entry accounting was published by Luca Pacioli.
Since Pacioli was a Franciscan friar, he might be referred to simply as Friar Luca. While
Friar Luca is regarded as the "Father of Accounting," he did not invent the system.
Instead, he simply described a method used by merchants in Venice during the Italian
Renaissance period. His system included most of the accounting cycle as we know it
today. The first accounting book actually was one of five sections in Pacioli's
mathematics book, titled Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et
Proportionalita (Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportions). This section
on accounting served as the world's only accounting textbook until well into the 16th
century. Accounting practitioners in public accounting, industry, and not-for-profit
organizations, as well as investors, lending institutions, business firms, and all other users
for financial information are indebted to Luca Pacioli for his monumental role in the
development of accounting.
1
Luca Pacioli: The Father of Accounting
Introduction
While there are many famous names from the Renaissance, such as Leonardo da
Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, and Christopher Columbus. One who is not as well-
known is Luca Pacioli. Yet, Paciolis impact on history, notably the development of
accounting for record-keeping and financial reporting, was enormous. Without effective
accounting, the development of business would have been substantially impaired, thereby
limiting economic development and in turn, the rising standards of living enjoyed by
peoples around the world. While not as well-known as some other Renaissance figures,
Pacioli wrote a book that changed everything, well, everything accounting, that is.
Friar Lucas Book
In 1494, the first book on double-entry
accounting was published. The author, Luca
Pacioli, was an Italian friar. His impact on
accounting was so great that five centuries later,
accountants from around the world gathered in
the Italian village of San Sepulcro to celebrate
the anniversary of the book's publication. The
first accounting book actually was one of five
sections in Pacioli's mathematics book, titled Everything about Arithmetic, Geometry,
and Proportions. This section on accounting served as the world's only accounting
textbook until well into the 16th century.
2
Since Pacioli was a Franciscan friar, he might be referred to simply as Friar Luca.
While Friar Luca is often called the "Father of Accounting," he did not invent the system.
Instead, he simply described a method used by merchants, aka businesspersons, in Venice
during the Italian Renaissance period. His system included most of the accounting cycle
as we know it today. For example, he described the use journals and ledgers, and he
warned that a person should not go to sleep at night until the debits equaled the credits!
His ledger included assets (including receivables and inventories), liabilities, capital,
income, and expense accounts. Friar Luca demonstrated year-end closing entries and
proposed that a trial balance be used to prove a balanced ledger. He further alluded to a
wide range of topics from accounting ethics to cost accounting.
Pacioli was 49 years old in 1494, just two years after Columbus discovered
America, when he returned to Venice for the publication of his fifth book, Summa de
Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita (Everything About Arithmetic,
Geometry and Proportions). The book was written as a digest and guide to existing
mathematical knowledge, and bookkeeping was only one of five topics covered. The
Summa's 36 short chapters on bookkeeping, entitled De Computis et Scripturis (Of
Reckonings and Writings) were added "in order that the subjects of the most gracious
Duke of Urbino may have complete instructions in the conduct of business," and to "give
the trader without delay information as to his assets and liabilities" (Geijsbeek, 1914).
Vecchio and Nuovo
Friar Luca emphasized that accounts had “both likes and opposites,” such as
payable and receivable accounts, and that business managers should be cognizant of the
“dual aspect” of transactions (Littleton, 1933). The two primary ledger books in use in
3
Venice were the libro reale vecchio and the libro reale nuovo. Within the vecchio, each
opposing page acts as a pair and both were assigned the same page number. The left page
is designated for the debit of the account and the opposing right was for the credit. Table
1 provides an example of entries in the vecchio (Axtell et al., 2017).
[Insert Table1]
Over time the vecchio went of use and was replaced by the nuovo, which featured
single pages split vertically, allowing for debits on the left and credits on the right, much
like contemporary accounting ledgers. Table 2 provides examples of entries in the nuovo.
Most business managers recorded transactions in ledgers, which were reconciled with
those retained by the business owners. The accounts were closed into a profit and loss
account, much like modern practice, which was then closed into an owners capital
account. Before posting entries to a ledger, business managers initially recorded
transactions in a journal. While this accounting methodology was well established in
Venice prior to Friar Lucas book, his book facilitated the spread of double-entry
accounting worldwide.
[Inert Table 2]
Historical Impact
Numerous tiny details of bookkeeping technique set forth by Friar Luca were
followed in texts and the profession for at least the next four centuries, as accounting
historian Henry Rand Hatfield put it, "persisting like buttons on our coat sleeves, long
after their significance had disappeared" (Johnsson & Kihlstedt, 2005). Perhaps the best
proof that Friar Luca's work was considered potentially significant even at the time of
publication was the very fact that it was printed on November 10, 1494. Guttenberg had
4
just a quarter-century earlier invented metal type, and it was still an extremely expensive
proposition to print a book. Modern translations Paciolis revolutionary book were made
by Brown & Johnson (1963), and by Green (1968),
To attain business excellence, effective business governance is indispensable.
From past times to the present, accountants, internal auditors and external auditors are
called upon to fulfill critical roles in the governance function, notably in measuring and
benchmarking business performance. The fundamentals for measuring and benchmarking
were succinctly laid down by Friar Luca. His work provided a foundation for the future
work of rule-setting bodies such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)
and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). Table 3 provides a historical
framework for the friars work among the key events regarding accounting and financial
reporting.
[Insert Table 3 here]
The profession of accounting has a rich history that includes ancient roots and
diverse cultures. While new standards were developed and technology improved, the key
stewardship role of accounting stayed the same, from the scribes of ancient Mesopotamia,
to the Roman bookkeepers, to the manorial accountants of medieval Britain, to the
Venetian accountants of Friar Lucas time, to the modern-day accountants of the 21st
Century. Friar Lucas book presented numerous accounting topics that remain essentially
unchanged, from the classification of inventories to the handling of debts (Axtell et al.
2017).
5
Conclusion
Friar Luca Pacioli changed the world of accounting, which in turn revolutionized
how business managers were able to keep track of internal operations, and thereby attain
greater efficiency and profitability. The fundamentals of double-entry accounting have
been largely unchanged for over 500 years. These fundamentals were essential to the
progress of business, including the development of the capital market system and modern
economies, that facilitated the ever-rising standards of living for peoples around the
world. Accounting practitioners in public accounting, industry, and not-for-profit
organizations, as well as investors, lending institutions, business firms, and all other users
for financial information are indebted to Luca Pacioli for his monumental role in the
development of accounting.
6
References
Axtell, Jenifer M., Smith, L.M., & Tervo, W. (2017). The Advent of Accounting in
Business Governance: From Ancient Scribes to Modern Practitioners.
International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, 12(1): 21-46.
Brown, R. (1968) History of Accounts and Accountants, New York, NY, Augustus M.
Kelly Publishers.
Brown, G. & Johnson, K. (1963). Paciolo on Accounting, New York, NY, McGraw-Hill
Book Company.
Geijsbeek, J.B. (1914). Ancient Double Entry Bookkeeping: Lucas Pacioli's Treatise,
1914)
Green, W. L. (1968) ‘Brief Resume of the Life of Luca Pacioli and His Book Entitled
Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita’ in: Chatfield,
M., Contemporary Studies in the Evolution of Accounting Thought, New York,
NY, Augustus M. Kelly Publishers.
Johnsson, H. V., & Kihlstedt, P. E. (2005). Performance-based reporting: new
management tools for unpredictable times. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Kojima, O. (1995) Accounting History, Osaka, Japan, A. N. Offset Co., Ltd.
Littleton, A. C. (1933) The Antecedents of Double-Entry Bookkeeping in: Littleton,
A.C. Accounting Evolution to 1900, New York, NY, Russell & Russell.
Smith, L.M. (2018). Timeline of Key Events Regarding Accounting and Financial
Reporting. Retrieved on 7 March 2018 from https://goo.gl/tQs22T).
7
Table 1
The Libro Reale Vecchio
_____
Source: Kojima (1995).
8
Table 2
The Libro Reale Nuovo
_____
Source: Brown (1968).
9
Table 3
Timeline of Key Events Regarding Accounting and Financial Reporting
4000 BC Archeological findings in lower Mesopotamia show that scribes accounted
for temple income on clay tablets.
27 BC In Ancient Rome, an account-keeper, also called dispensator or procurator,
is employed to maintain stewardship of financial matters.
33 AD Jesus of Nazareth affirms a citizen’s duty to pay taxes: “Render to Caesar
the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
60 The Bible describes internal control procedures such as the use of
accounting
reports to monitor a steward's performance (Jesus’s parable of the ‘unjust
steward’) and dual custody of assets (Apostle Paul’s handling financial
gift).
1086 William the Conqueror’s Doomsday Book is compiled, providing detailed
information about England and Wales from which taxes were levied.
1200s The development and spread of manorial accounting, the proffer system,
and tallies throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland.
1455 Johann Gutenberg invents the movable type printing press.
1494 Friar Luca Pacioli authors first book on double-entry accounting.
1600 East India Company, early joint-stock corporation, established with royal
charter by Queen Elizabeth I.
1629 Appointment of auditors to examine the accounts of Massachusetts Bay
colony.
1792 New York stock exchange established.
1853 Institute of Accountants is established in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
1883 First US college accounting course offered at the University of
Pennsylvania.
1896 New York is first US state to pass CPA legislation.
1899 First woman CPA, Christine Ross of New York.
1928 Helen Lowe, Chartered Accountant, starts her own accounting practice in
Scotland.
1930s US securities acts of 1933 and 1934 require filing and public disclosure of
audited
financial statements to the SEC.
1946 The first electronic computer, ENIAC, is constructed at the University of
Pennsylvania.
1969 ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet, established with four nodes:
UCLA, Stanford, UC-Santa Barbara, and University of Utah.
1973 International Accounting Standards Committee established, forerunner of
the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).
1980s Widespread use of microcomputers, particularly for word processing and
spreadsheet applications.
10
Table 3: Timeline Continued
1991 Sir Tim Berners-Lee, working at CERN in Geneva, develops the World
Wide Web in a relatively innocuous newsgroup, "alt.hypertext." Later,
people refer to the Internet itself as the Web. The impact on e-commerce is
profound.
1995 The Bottom Line is Betrayal authored by K.T. Smith, L.M. Smith, and
D.L. Crumbley: the first business educational novel combining
accounting, international trade, global marketing, and emerging
technologies (7th edition published in 2014).
1998 Olivia F. Kirtley becomes first woman Chair of the American Institute of
CPAs (AICPA).
2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act signed into law by President George W. Bush,
contains provisions regarding corporate governance, auditing, and
financial reporting of public companies, including provisions designed to
prevent and punish corporate accounting fraud and corruption.
2005 European Union requires use of International Financial Reporting
Standards (IFRS) by publicly traded companies in the EU.
2007 US Securities and Exchange Commission accepts IFRS for financial
reporting by non-US companies listed in the US stock market (no Form
20-F reconciliation to USA GAAP) if those companies use IFRS in their
home country.
2009 The implementation of the Codification of U.S. GAAP.
2014 Olivia F. Kirtley becomes first woman President of the International
Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
2018 International Financial Reporting Standards accepted or required in over
140 countries.
_____
Adapted from: Smith (2018).
... The roots of double-entry bookkeeping trace back to "Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita" ("Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportions") published in 1494 and written by the Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli (M. Smith, 2018). While often attributed as the "father of accounting", Pacioli did not invent double-entry bookkeeping but rather described the method used by merchants of Venice during the Italian Renaissance (M. ...
... While often attributed as the "father of accounting", Pacioli did not invent double-entry bookkeeping but rather described the method used by merchants of Venice during the Italian Renaissance (M. Smith, 2018). Geerts and McCarthy (1997) describe double-entry bookkeeping as one of the "stellar achievements of the Renaissance" while simultaneously arguing that it is a very narrow view of a rich data environment, where it is specifically designed to support the generation of monetary net worth and net income reports. ...
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Antibiotic resistance is eroding the efficacy of the drugs we have and, unless future science dictates otherwise, bacteria will eventually become resistant to whatever new antibiotics we discover. We must therefore plan for a continuous stream of innovation. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical firms have left the scene to pursue more profitable areas. While the free market may eventually give rise to a solution, the question is how much destruction we are willing to accept on the way, and whether it eventually will be too late. A plethora of policy interventions, aimed at stimulating antibiotic research and development, have been suggested, and simulation modelers have begun estimating their effects. Suggested interventions range from prizes, grants, and competitions to regulatory fast-tracking and non-profit development. No unified picture of what to do has emerged. From the perspective of policy-makers, the need does not seem to be for more but for better information. This thesis suggests that to truly compare policy interventions, aimed at stimulating antibiotic development, we should draw on simulation model alignment techniques. To support such an endeavor this thesis presents the seeds of a compositional language capable of formally expressing policy interventions as offers that can be actualized into contracts. The language is not merely theoretical but implementable and usable within actual simulation models. The language is not only derived from previous research on compositional contracts in functional languages and the resources-events-agents ontology, but also the author's unique position as a participant in DRIVE-AB, which comprised 16 public and 7 private partners from 12 countries, and finally six separately published simulation experiments that are all based on work by the author. A constructive proof is provided to establish the utility of the solution in terms of its capacity to capture important facets of important policy interventions.
... He wrote the mathematical book titled "Summa de Arithmetica, Geometrica, Proportioni et Proportionalita" which means "Everything about Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportions" (Sangster & Scataglinibelghitar, 2010). Luca Pacioli described the use of journals and ledgers in accounting systems and warned that the accountant must not sleep until the debits are equaled to credits (Smith, 2018). ...
... Luca Pacioli is also said to have described the method used by the merchants of Venice at that time. He is not considered as the inventor of double entry because even before Luca Pacioli published his book, the merchants of Venice had actually maintained this particular way of accounting records (Smith, 2018). Luca Pacioli wrote the text and Leonardo da Vinci, his friend, drew the practical illustrations to support and explain the text in the book (Murtinho, 2015). ...
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This book offers a comprehensive account of the co-evolution of technological and scientific literature in the early modern period (1450–1750). It examines the various relationships of these literatures in six areas of knowledge – Architecture, Chemistry, Gunnery, Mechanical Engineering, Mining, and Practical Mathematics – which represent the main types of advanced technological and scientific knowledge of the era. In this way, the volume tries to convey a new idea of the variety and disunity of the early modern interrelations and interactions between learned and practical knowledge. The book will be primarily of interest to historians of science and technology and can serve as a textbook in these fields of study. Since the book addresses fundamental aspects of the significance that the emergence and development of the modern natural and technological sciences have for the self-image of the West, it will also be of interest to a wider readership.
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This conference book can be found https://isletme-en.trakya.edu.tr/
Brief Resume of the Life of Luca Pacioli and His Book Entitled Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria
  • W L Green
Green, W. L. (1968) 'Brief Resume of the Life of Luca Pacioli and His Book Entitled Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita' in: Chatfield, M., Contemporary Studies in the Evolution of Accounting Thought, New York, NY, Augustus M. Kelly Publishers.
Performance-based reporting: new management tools for unpredictable times
  • H V Johnsson
  • P E Kihlstedt
Johnsson, H. V., & Kihlstedt, P. E. (2005). Performance-based reporting: new management tools for unpredictable times. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
The Antecedents of Double-Entry Bookkeeping' in: Littleton, A.C. Accounting Evolution to 1900
  • A C Littleton
Littleton, A. C. (1933) 'The Antecedents of Double-Entry Bookkeeping' in: Littleton, A.C. Accounting Evolution to 1900, New York, NY, Russell & Russell.
Timeline of Key Events Regarding Accounting and Financial Reporting
  • L M Smith
Smith, L.M. (2018). Timeline of Key Events Regarding Accounting and Financial Reporting. Retrieved on 7 March 2018 from https://goo.gl/tQs22T).
Crumbley: the first business educational novel combining accounting, international trade, global marketing, and emerging technologies
  • K T Smith
  • L M Smith
The Bottom Line is Betrayal authored by K.T. Smith, L.M. Smith, and D.L. Crumbley: the first business educational novel combining accounting, international trade, global marketing, and emerging technologies (7th edition published in 2014).
Kirtley becomes first woman Chair of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)
  • F Olivia
Olivia F. Kirtley becomes first woman Chair of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).
Act signed into law by President George W. Bush, contains provisions regarding corporate governance, auditing, and financial reporting of public companies, including provisions designed to prevent and punish corporate accounting fraud and corruption
  • Sarbanes-Oxley
Sarbanes-Oxley Act signed into law by President George W. Bush, contains provisions regarding corporate governance, auditing, and financial reporting of public companies, including provisions designed to prevent and punish corporate accounting fraud and corruption.
Kirtley becomes first woman President of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)
  • F Olivia
Olivia F. Kirtley becomes first woman President of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).