Definition

Antikythera mechanism (2000-year-old computer)

Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

The Antikythera mechanism is an analog computer that was used by the Greeks more than 2000 years ago to locate and predict the positions of celestial objects. When new, the device was made of bronze with a wooden frame and was roughly the size of a wall clock. The name Antikythera comes from the island near where the device was discovered in the remains of a shipwreck that occurred in or around the year 76 B.C.

See images.

Like a mechanical clock, the Antikythera mechanism has dials along with a sophisticated system of gears. It bears inscriptions that have been deciphered. Based on its construction and on the nature of the writing, scientists have deduced that the Antikythera mechanism must have been used to measure astronomical time based on cycles of the sun, the moon and the planets. In this way it could have been employed to predict solar and lunar eclipses, tides and the recurrence of the seasons. These functions would have made the device useful to farmers, seafarers and perhaps even military commanders.

This was last updated in March 2011
Contributor(s): Lowell Thing
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • Easter Egg

    - An Easter Egg is an unexpected surprise -- an undocumented procedure or unauthorized feature that's playful in nature or gives credit to the software developer or chip designer. (WhatIs.com)

  • term boosting

    - Term boosting is the ability to assign higher importance to specific words in a search engine query. In Google, for example, advanced search options allow you to identify words that must be found i... (WhatIs.com)

  • greedy algorithm

    - A greedy algorithm is a mathematical process that looks for simple, easy-to-implement solutions to complex, multi-step problems by deciding which next step will provide the most obvious benefit. (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Computing fundamentals

    - Terms related to computer fundamentals, including computer hardware definitions and words and phrases about software, operating systems, peripherals and troubleshooting.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About Antikythera mechanism (2000-year-old computer)Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.