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Antikythera mechanism, the first analogue computer

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This machine has the oldest known complex gear mechanism and is sometimes called the first known analog computer, although the quality of its manufacture suggests that it may have had undiscovered predecessors during the Hellenistic Period. It appears to be constructed upon theories of astronomy and mathematics developed by Greek astronomers and is estimated to have been made around 100 BC.

In 1974, British science historian and Yale University Professor Derek de Solla Price concluded from gear settings and inscriptions on the mechanism’s faces that the mechanism was made about 87 BC and was lost only a few years later. It is believed the mechanism was made of a low-tin bronze alloy (95% copper, 5% tin), but the device’s advanced state of corrosion has made it impossible to perform an accurate compositional analysis. All of the mechanism’s instructions are written in Koine Greek, and the consensus among scholars is that the mechanism was made in the Greek-speaking world.

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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