Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business


  • In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In 1494, Father Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan monk and world-class mathematician, wrote a book titled Summa Mathematica. In an appendix to the book is the first recorded description of double-entry bookkeeping as we think of it today. The book was illustrated by his close friend, Leonardo DaVinci.
  • Speaking of Leonardo, it is a little known fact that both his father and grandfather were accountants and notaries. However, Leonardo was an illegitimate child. Because of this he could not be admitted to the guild of his father. But for this twist of fate, he could have been the greatest accountant the world has ever known. Instead he was apprenticed to an artist's workshop. The rest is history.
  • Back to Columbus: Consider the following quote from author Alistar Cooke, made in his 1973 television series America: "There were forty men...aboard the flotilla, including a surgeon and the royal controller of accounts, sent along to keep tabs on Columbus' swindle sheet when he started to figure the cost of gold and spices he would accumulate."
  • By the late 17th century, double-entry bookkeeping had become the centerpiece in the education in the American colonies of young men and women in the trading classes.
  • The first public accountant in the American colonies is thought to have been Mr. Browne Tymms, who opened an office in Boston in 1718. He would be a CPA in today's world.
  • The case of the mysterious "R": Students understand today that Cr. can be related to the word "credit," but how does Dr. relate to the word "debit"? In short, where does the "r" come from in the abbreviation "Dr."? It comes from the Latin word debitore (meaning "debtor," and cousin of the word creditore, meaning "creditor"), first used by Pacioli in his book mentioned above.