World's First Computer?

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9 Replies - 1607 Views - Last Post: 24 December 2008 - 01:23 PM

#1 OliveOyl3471  Icon User is offline

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World's First Computer?

Posted 17 December 2008 - 10:43 PM

http://blog.wired.co...0...=1&mbid=yhp

Quote

A British museum curator has built a working replica of a 2,000-year-old Greek machine that has been called the world's first computer.

A dictionary-size assemblage of 37 interlocking dials crafted with the precision and complexity of a 19th-century Swiss clock, the Antikythera mechanism was used for modeling and predicting the movements of the heavenly bodies as well as the dates and locations of upcoming Olympic games.

The original 81 shards of the Antikythera were recovered from under the sea (near the Greek island of Antikythera) in 1902, rusted and clumped together in a nearly indecipherable mass. Scientists dated it to 150 B.C. Such craftsmanship wouldn't be seen for another 1,000 years but its purpose was a mystery for decades.

Many scientists have worked since the 1950s to piece together the story, with the help of some very sophisticated imaging technology in recent years, including X-ray and gamma-ray imaging and 3-D computer modeling.

Now, though, it has been rebuilt. As is almost always the way with these things, it was an amateur who cracked it. Michael Wright, a former curator at the Science Museum in London, has built a replica of the Antikythera, which works perfectly.

In the video from New Scientist below, Wright shows how the machine works.

In short, Antikythera's user interface is deceptively simple, operated by a simple knob on the side. This conceals the intricacy within, amounting to a complex mathematical model, tracking the movements of planetary bodies and incorporating a series of submechanisms to account for the eccentricities of their rotation.

A dial on the faceplace featured the Greek zodiac and an Egyptian calendar; pointers showed the location of the moon and the five planets known at the time. On the machine's back, an upper dial shows a 19-year calendar (matching the solunar cycle) and the timing of upcoming Olympic games. A lower dial shows a 76-year cycle (when the Olympic and solunar cycles coincide) and indicates the months in which lunar and solar eclipses can be expected.

According to New Scientist, this is the first working model of the Antikythera computer to include all of the device's known features. And, like the original machine, it has been built of recycled metal plates. That's right: The Antikythera mechanism is not only the world's oldest computer, it's also the world's first green computer.


What do you all think of this?

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#2 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 17 December 2008 - 11:25 PM

Cool. Greeks were smart. Must be all the boy loving.
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#3 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 18 December 2008 - 07:33 AM

It's a cute toy. I think whoever called it "the world's first computer" is using different terminology or is just daft.

It's a very fixed purpose device for predicting position. In a strange sense, it seems like an anti-computer, since it's essentially designed to help someone who doesn't understand math.

People are fascinated by it because it has gears. An abacus is a far more usful tool, has existed in a number of cultures, and predates this gizmo by nearly three millennium. Of course, no gears. Stone henge is a far more elegant predictor of planetary cycles; again, no gears.

No saying it isn't neat, but it seems people want it to mean something more than it does.
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#4 Rickster090  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 18 December 2008 - 07:36 AM

Awsome..
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#5 OliveOyl3471  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 18 December 2008 - 10:00 PM

Thanks Baavgai. How do you always know what to say? That is exactly what I wanted to know. :D

nice use of 'daft' btw. :P
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#6 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 18 December 2008 - 10:04 PM

View PostOliveOyl3471, on 17 Dec, 2008 - 11:43 PM, said:

What do you all think of this?


Question #1, can it run Doom?
Question #2, with most computers & computing devices, has a Linux kernel been adapted to boot it off of?
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#7 Malthe101  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 19 December 2008 - 01:35 PM

Blaise Pascal invented what i would call the first computer: http://www.maxmon.com/1640ad.htm
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#8 MarkoDaGeek  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 21 December 2008 - 09:36 PM

Posted Image
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#9 chuck981996  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 22 December 2008 - 05:40 PM

View Postno2pencil, on 18 Dec, 2008 - 09:04 PM, said:

Question #1, can it run Doom?


Course! It was made in recent years, wasn' it?

View Postno2pencil, on 18 Dec, 2008 - 09:04 PM, said:

Question #2, with most computers & computing devices, has a Linux kernel been adapted to boot it off of?


It's currently in alpha:

2000 Year Old Linux
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#10 seriousazn  Icon User is offline

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Re: World's First Computer?

Posted 24 December 2008 - 01:23 PM

haha nice the Greeks were cool =]
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