Shakuntala Devi, also popularly known as the “human computer” for her exceptional mathematical skills, was a child prodigy whose talents earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records. She was born in Bengaluru, India, to an orthodox Kannada Brahmin family and wrote many novels, puzzle books and texts on maths and astrology.
She travelled the world demonstrating her skills at various events. On 18 June 1980, she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers — 7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779 — picked at random by the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. She correctly answered 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds.
In 1977, she wrote ‘The World of Homosexuals’, the first study of homosexuality in India. In the documentary ‘For Straights Only’, she says that her interest in the topic came out of her marriage to a homosexual man and subsequent desire to look at homosexuality more closely to understand it.