The mysterious Antikythera mechanism, thought by some to be the world’s first computer, was first “started up” on Dec. 22, 178 B.C., archaeologists have now found.
Discovered by sponge divers in a Roman-era shipwreck near the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, the elaborate ancient computer, which looks like a shoebox-size contraption with gears and dials that have numerous tiny inscriptions written on them, could predict eclipses and determine when various athletic games took place, among other functions.
Over the years, researchers have painstakingly pieced together the many fragments of the Antikythera mechanism to figure out how it was created and how it would have been used 2,000 or so years ago. There are many questions plaguing the device: Who made it? Where did they live? Why create it and what start date did it have? Now, a team of scientists has determined that “turn on” date, detailing their findings online March 28 on the preprint database arXiv, an online journal where research can be uploaded before peer review.
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