Here are some intriguing facts about world’s first computer, Antikythera Mechanism

It grabbed eyeballs of many historians, geologists and antique connoisseurs and baffled many scientists as to its real purpose.

From the time it was fished out from the colossal depths of the seas near Antikythera island in Greece back in 1900 to 1901, it has triggered many theories and research work among scientists who have left no stones unturned to decipher its origin and functionality.

Despite its 2000 years of tryst with the underwater life had corroded much of its actual structure and turned it into some crude looking molded pieces of bronze, its value has still been on the rise.

Amidst the hullabaloo over its origin, which was taken as dating back to the Hellenistic era of 205 B.C, the “world’s first computer” as it was referred to, embraced surprises galore for scientists.

Of course, the fact that it was a treasure trove of technology was brought to the fore gradually.


Scientists Christian Carman, Professor of History of Science at Argentina’s University of Quilmes, and James Evans, a Physics Professor teaching at the University of Puget Sound, were the two main masterminds working towards deciphering the reality behind the Antikythera Mechanism.

The previous deductions referred to the machine as being one that simulated the motions of the heavenly bodies and later as a machine that had emerged from a spaceship.

Going a mile ahead of these studies, the two researchers dwelled their research work on theories, which endowed the mechanism with the power to undergo high end astronomical and ecliptic calculations.

A lot of intense and intricate study went on to understand the actual workings of the machinery because of its already corroded structure.

It resembled the antique mantel clock in its size, a rounded face and with hands which were capable of rotating. A knob was found that was probably used to wind up the machine and propelling the gearwheels linked to each other in order to make them move in varying speeds.

The seven hands of the mechanism pertained to the five main planets which were seen from the Earth namely, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn along with the morning star Sun and the Moon. The two dials at the rear end of the case referred to the timing of the eclipses and corresponded to the calendar.

Several debates have been put forth and many connotations broached forward with regard to the function of this wonderful piece of technology. London’s Science Museum’s curator Michael Wright pointed to its abilities to calculate what the Greeks referred to as “epicycles” or smaller circles that have been embedded prominently on larger circles.

Evans and Carman pointed to the possibility of the origin of the eclipse prediction theory to be something that was borrowed from the Babylon’s arithmetical techniques by the Greeks. This deduction also leads to the possibility of the mechanism being somewhat dating back to the days of the famous scholar Archimedes.

After in depth research on the remnants of the eclipse predictor as retained by the Antikythera mechanism, scientists came to the conclusions that the mechanism took calculations that determined the velocity of the eclipses which could be obtained by a study of their anomalies, ecliptic cycles which went missing and other such rare astronomical occurrences.

It could be so that the principles on which the mechanism worked were a fine blend of the Babylonian arithmetical calculations and Greek trigonometry and geometric understanding which was supposedly arrived at by a Rhodes astronomer Hipparchus.

Whatever may have been the ultimate function of the machine, it comes as no doubt that the Antikythera mechanism was indeed one-of-its-kind and truly an immaculately designed one that perfectly entailed complex wheels and mechanics to predict nature’s doing. By bringing in the whole of the cosmos molded into the bronze structure the Greeks went on to pave the way for what entails modern scientific predictions and astronomical purviews.

(Image: Wikipedia)