Where did Degrees, Minutes and Seconds come from?

This answer comes to us courtesy of Sam Wormley

See: http://www.boulder.nist.gov/timefreq/general/history.htm#Anchor-16126

If we are to delve into the history of mathematics, the first widely used positional numbering system, in the Old World, was the base-60, "sexagesimal" numbering system developed around 2,000 B.C. by the Babylonians.  This Babylonian positional system is still in wide use today, by virtually everyone -- in the hours-minutes-seconds used to represent time, and degrees-minutes-seconds used for angular measure.

During its entire history the sexagesimal system incorporated base-60 fractions (it's really an early example of floating point).  A zero symbol was added by Hellenistic times, following which the system spread over virtually the entire civilized world, excepting China.

Users of sexagesimal -- mostly astronomers and mathematicians -- performed computations such as long division by close analogy to what is done today using base-10.  Ptolemy's famous _Almagest_ of 140 A.D., for example, utilized a zero symbol in conjunction with sexagesimal numerals and fractions exactly as we do today.  Usage of sexagesimals by astronomers and mathematicians continued throughout the Byzantine and Islamic periods into the modern mathematical era.