How the World’s Oldest Computer Worked: Reconstructing the 2,200-Year-Old Antikythera Mechanism

In 1900, Greek sponge divers discovered a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. The artifacts they came back up with included money, statues, pottery, and various other works of art and craft, as well as a curious lump of bronze and wood that turned out to be by far the most important item onboard. When an archaeologist named Valerios Stais took a look at it two years later, he noticed that the lump had a gear in it. Almost a half-century later, the science historian Derek J. de Solla Price thought this apparently mechanical object might merit further examination, and almost a quarter-century after that, he and the nuclear physicist Charalambos Karakalos published their discovery–made by using X-ray and gamma-ray images of the interior–that those divers had found a kind of ancient computer.”

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