The Oldest Computer in the World.
Thursday, 5th November 2020 (19:45 - 21:00)
Venue: Virtual Meeting
The Antikythera mechanism (// AN-tə-kə-THEER-ə) is an ancient Greek hand-powered orrery, described as the first analogue computer, the oldest known example of such a device used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes decades in advance. It could also be used to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad, the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games.
This artefact was retrieved from the sea in 1901, and identified on 17 May 1902 as containing a gear by archaeologist Valerios Stais, among wreckage retrieved from a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. The instrument is believed to have been designed and constructed by Greek scientists and has been variously dated to about 87 BC, or between 150 and 100 BC, or to 205 BC, or to within a generation before the shipwreck, which has been dated to approximately 70–60 BC.
The device, housed in the remains of a 34 cm × 18 cm × 9 cm (13.4 in × 7.1 in × 3.5 in) wooden box, was found as one lump, later separated into three main fragments which are now divided into 82 separate fragments after conservation efforts. Four of these fragments contain gears, while inscriptions are found on many others. The largest gear is approximately 13 centimetres (5.1 in) in diameter and originally had 223 teeth.
Speaker: Phil Muffett
Learn more about Phil Muffett