So Charles Babbage was the founder of computers? What about the Greeks during the golden age? Art, Architecture, Literature, speech don’t just highlight their major contributions, analogue computer technology does too. Well, if scientists shun the notions of Greeks having knowledge of any sorts of machine alchemy (sure they were ahead of their times but not “creating their own computer” soon) what about the first working gear made by the Greeks – The Antikythera Mechanism?
If you don’t know about this marvel of a machine that was found out by a pair of divers from the small Aegean island of Syme in 1900, this is what it looks like:
This mechanic masterpiece hidden in the debris of the oceans shocked people to what is known about the human history of inventions. Moreover, what was more puzzling is, how were Greeks able to invent such a sophisticated machine?
Derek de Solla Price, a British experimental physicist and historian of science, said: “It is a bit frightening, to know that just before the fall of their great civilization the ancient Greeks had come so close to our age, not only in their thought, but also in their scientific technology.” He studied the mechanism in 1974 and found out that the Greeks Antikythera Mechanism has precise interlocking gears, making it quite a complex machine, with a differential gear that sets the entire machine to function.
The differential gear enabled the Antikythera computer to show the movements of the Sun and the Moon in “perfect consistency” along with the different phases of the Moon. Price believed that it is one of the greatest basic mechanical inventions of all time.
As the stars move across the sky each night, people of the ancient world have looked up and wondered about their place in the universe, but Greeks did something about it. Time was always relevant to human existence, and Greeks helped invent complex astronomical clocks to make sense of passing day and night, time of key events, and the changes in directions.
The device is said to be so sophisticated that it appears to be out of place to be invented in 150-100 B.C.. To begin with, the device uses continuously changing aspects of mechanical quantities; like the hand crank that was built, which moves easily forward or backward in time.
The gears and wheels of the Antikythera Mechanism were also created with much precision. The ratios of the different wheels were accurate to encapsulate the motion of Moon and Sun around the Earth. The measurements were so on-point that it enabled Greeks to predict eclipses, as well as track the ellipses and positions of the planets. But having recovered just the 40% of the original machine, most of the masterpiece remains unknown.