Recreating a 2000-Year-Old Computer

Posted by Michael Pinto on Dec 13, 2008 in Tech |

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient calculator that was discovered in Greece over 100 years ago, what makes it amazing is that it’s over 2,000 years old and uses similar technology that wasn’t available until the 18th century. But what’s very cool is that scientists have recently reconstructed a working model of the mechanism which was used to calculate the positions of the sun, moon, and the planets:

Archimedes and the 2000-year-old computer

“In recent decades, however, a series of researchers have dedicated large parts of their lives to studying the mechanism. From their combined efforts, including X-raying its internal workings, we at last have a fairly complete picture of what the Antikythera mechanism did. It turns out that it was a hand-wound clockwork device used to calculate the motions of the sun, moon and planets as seen from Earth, as well as to predict solar and lunar eclipses. The complexity of the design, and the fact that it incorporated state-of-the-art astronomical knowledge, suggest that the maker cared a great deal about the accuracy of the mechanism.”

The largest recovered fragment of the Antikythera mechanism, in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

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