Researchers Develop Model Of 2,200-Year-Old Antikythera Mechanism, 'The World's First Computer'

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Researchers Develop Replica Model Of 2,200-Year-Old Antikythera Mechanism, 'The World's First Computer'

Image: University College London

This tiny tablet-sized device is now being regarded by archaeologists as the world's first computer. Originally discovered in 1901, it is only now that scientists have worked out what it was designed to do.

Known as the Antikythera mechanism, it was discovered in Greece in the sea off the island of Antikythera and dates back to around 150 to 100 BC, making it well over 2,000 years old. It was a handheld device and was able to follow the 235-month pattern that was used by astronomers to predict eclipses.

It also had the amazing ability to predict the positions of the planets the Greeks knew of, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn as well as the Moon and the Sun and placed, like most ancient civilisations, the Earth in the centre of the Universe.

Amazingly it was not until fairly recently, 100 years after the device was discovered that scientists worked out exactly how it works and what it was used for. This is largely because only around a third of the ancient device has survived and this was split into 82 different pieces. The biggest fragment, known as fragment A, displays a bearing, a pillar and a block. Fragment D contains a disc which is made up of a 63 tooth-gear and plate.

Scientists are still baffled as to how such an intricate metal device could have been created with the techniques that the Ancient Greeks were currently known to have. This had caused many to previously speculate that the computer was not in fact as old as thought, a theory now refuted.

It was researchers at the University College London who were able to break the secrets of the mysterious device. They said:

"Inscriptions specifying complex planetary periods forced new thinking on the mechanization of this Cosmos, but no previous reconstruction has come close to matching the data. Our discoveries lead to a new model, satisfying and explaining the evidence. Solving this complex 3D puzzle reveals a creation of genius—combining cycles from Babylonian astronomy, mathematics from Plato's Academy and ancient Greek astronomical theories."

The research team now intend to build a modern version of the device that will work just as it did over 2,000 years ago.

The replica will give great insight into our understanding of Ancient technology and unravel what we had previously presumed were the technical capabilities of those in the distant past.

[h/t: Open Culture]

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Thinking Humanity: Researchers Develop Model Of 2,200-Year-Old Antikythera Mechanism, 'The World's First Computer'
Researchers Develop Model Of 2,200-Year-Old Antikythera Mechanism, 'The World's First Computer'
This tiny tablet-sized device is now being regarded by archaeologists as the world's first computer. Originally discovered in 1901, it is only now tha
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