Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mysteries of computer from 65BC are solved

A 2,000-year-old mechanical computer salvaged from a Roman shipwreck has astounded scientists who have finally unravelled the secrets of how the sophisticated device works.


[. . .]

Since its discovery, scientists have been trying to reconstruct the device, which is now known to be an astronomical calendar capable of tracking with remarkable precision the position of the sun, several heavenly bodies and the phases of the moon. Experts believe it to be the earliest-known device to use gear wheels and by far the most sophisticated object to be found from the ancient and medieval periods.

3 comments:

mr. intense said...

Ah, yes, the Antikythera mechanism. Incredibly fascinating astronomical tech/device, from approximately 65 B.C. (and perhaps quite a bit older).

Yah, this thing is mor valuable as an example of humanity's early ingenuity--remarkably complex device that was made by the Greeks, stolen and shipped by the Romans (who sank with it--kosmic karma, eh?), and discovered at depth in the underwater ruins of the ancient ship carrying it.

This thing even came with engraved thin metal plates as earliest "user documentation" and instructions on how to use it. Lots of data online about this thing--simply amazing early tech.

Morgaine Swann said...

HI - I just discovered your blog, and I'm enjoying it immensely. I've done a bit of writing about the Anitkythera Mechanism, and I recently saw a documentary about it in which a man succeeded in making a working copy of it. Once he got the shape of the teeth on the gears right, it worked like a charm.

It's amazing what the world lost when the Christians razed the library at Alexandria - we only achieved a similar level of technology within the last 80 years or so. Do you ever wonder where we might be if we hadn't been set back that 2,000 years? I do.

Mac said...

Hi Morgaine--

Thanks for dropping by!

I'm increasingly convinced that much of modern progress has been so much laborious reinvention. We totally underestimate the past.