The 2,000-Year-Old Computer You’ve Never Heard Of

Antikythera mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism.

I just heard about this program off BBC documentary and can’t wait to see it but in case you’ve never heard about it here’s what Wikipedia has to say about this amazing discovery:

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was recovered in 1900–1901 from the Antikythera wreck, but its significance and complexity were not understood until a century later. The construction has been dated to the early 1st century BC. Technological artifacts of similar complexity and workmanship did not reappear until the 14th century, when mechanicalastronomical clocks were built in Europe.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau visited the wreck for the last time in 1978, but found no additional remains of the Antikythera mechanism. Professor Michael Edmunds of Cardiff University, who led the most recent study of the mechanism, said: “This device is just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind. The design is beautiful, the astronomy is exactly right. The way the mechanics are designed just makes your jaw drop. Whoever has done this has done it extremely carefully … in terms of historic and scarcity value, I have to regard this mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa.”

The Antikythera mechanism is displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, accompanied by a reconstruction made and donated to the museum by Derek de Solla Price. Other reconstructions are on display at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in New York, and in Kassel, Germany.


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The extraordinary 2,000-year-old computer that you’ve never heard of
The Antikythera mechanism was designed to predict movements of the sun, moon and planets. Why isn’t it better known?