Thursday, December 21, 2006

World's Oldest Computer - Antikythera Mechanism

Ancient computer found off the coast of Antikythera, Greece is estimated to have been built over 2000 years ago. This makes it the world's oldest known computing device.

Above is a reconstruction of this device is believed to look like. There are over two thousand greek characters inscribed on this machine which helped archeologists decipher what it did and how it worked.

From a recent article in All Headlines News:

"...a device known as the Antikythera (an-tee-KITH-air-uh) mechanism, a device consisting of thirty bronze gears with approximately two-hundred-twenty-five teeth, was discovered off the Greek Island of Antikythera.

The Antikythera mechanism, which was made in Greece, is the earliest known computer, though research has shown that the mechanism was not unique for its time. Other instruments similar to the Antikythera have been mentioned in historical documents written in first-century B.C. by Cicero and Posidonius, the teacher of Cicero.

Scientists believe the Antikythera mechanism may have been used in the field of astronomy, showing the motion of the planets and computing eclipses of the sun and moon."

Here is a photo of what one of the pieces of this computer actually look like:

Other Antikythera links:

Reconstuction of Antikythera Mechanism
Antikythera Animation of gears
Pictures of mechanism
An Ancient Greek Computer
Oldest Known Computer