115th Anniversary Of Antikythera Mechanism’s Discovery: Intriguing Facts About The World’s First Computer

Posted: May 17 2017, 3:30pm CDT | by , Updated: May 17 2017, 3:36pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
115th Anniversary of Antikythera Mechanism’s Discovery: Intriguing Facts about the World’s First Computer
A part of the Antikythera Mechanism. Credit: National Archaeological Museum, Athens

The device was so advanced, nothing as complex cound be developed again until thousands of years

It's known as the Antikythera mechanism, a mysterious machine found over a century ago on a sunken Roman ship near a Mediterranean island . It is also believed to be the world’s first computer and the most advanced artifact from the ancient Greek world.

It was 115 years ago, on May 17, 1902, when archaeologist Valerios Stais noticed an unusual bit of bronze on the shipwreck found off the Greek island of Antikythera. The ancient device was named after the same island on which it was found.

The sunken ship which carried Antikythera mechanism was a giant of its time. It was at least 130 feet long and broke into two pieces as it sank. The ship was resting atop an underwater slope at the depth of 164 feet when discovered by a Greek sponge diver in 1900.

During underwater excavations next year, some of the most incredible Greek artifacts ever uncovered, but one diver died and two others were paralyzed from working at depths of more than 150 feet.

The device was initially dated around 100 BC but recent studies suggest it could be created sometime in 200 BC. More than 80 corroded fragments from Antikythera Mechanism have been recovered to date.

Antikythera mechanism contains dozens of bronze gears, dials and text inscriptions, encased in a wooden box. But the exact function of the device is still a mystery.

Although the device no longer works, latest technology offers clues to its purpose. Some believe that it was the first analog computer while others suggest that it was the first mechanical computing device. Either way, it demonstrates the function way ahead of its time. The device was so technologically advanced that it took perhaps a thousand years before the next known device of similar complexity was created.

Besides mathematical calculations, Antikythera Mechanism was probably also be used for tracking planetary positions, predicting lunar and solar eclipses and even signaling the next Olympic Games. It was reflected from the dial that showed the position of the sun, moon as well as the planets.

The mechanism is kept within the National Archaeological Museum of Athens since its discovery.

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