Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism, the First Computer

Over 2’000 years ago, the churning ocean below the cliffs of the Greek island Antikythera swallowed a massive ship loaded with a trove of luxuries — fine glassware, marble statues and, famously, a complex geared device identified to be the earliest computer. Three flat, misshapen pieces of bronze are all shades of green, from emerald to forest. The proverbial ‘contraption’ has astonished archaeologists and scientists alike, by virtue of not only its advanced workmanship but also its fascinating (and rather enigmatic) purpose. To that end, the artifact is often also stated as the world’s oldest gear ‘machine’ (based on the workings of the differential calculator) – crafted to predict various complex astronomical observances, including planetary positions and eclipses. Nothing else like this has ever been discovered from antiquity. Nothing as sophisticated, or even close, appears again for more than a thousand years.


[You may read the full Smithsonian article here…]

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