As I am sure is common with most mathematicians, I had become interested in the history of the development of mathematical symbols, first for numbers (numerals) and then for algebra (symbolic algebra). Joseph Mazur’s book Enlightening Symbols provided an excellent history of this evolution. His focus on the development and significance of symbolic algebra in the Renaissance was especially illuminating. I also augmented Mazur’s information with details from Albrecht Heeffer’s work.
Such a subject cries out for a timeline to appreciate the order and timing of discoveries, which Mazur provided, concentrating on the Renaissance. I decided to both simplify Mazur’s version and expand it to cover the evolution of numbers and their notation, as well as to set the whole enterprise in the context of historical periods.