‘Computer’ is 2,000 years old

A clockwork mechanism found in a 2,000-year-old shipwreck is the earliest known computer, experts believe. The intricate bronze system of more than 30 wheels and dials was used by ancient Greeks to predict the movements of the planets.

The device was found damaged in the wreck of a cargo ship off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900. Now British and Greek scientists have discovered a hidden inscription using sophisticated X-ray techniques. Michael Wright, of London’s Science Museum, says the computer was used to track the worlds known to the ancients – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The hand-operated device, on display at the Athens National Archaeological Museum, is thought to have been made on Rhodes. Its movements suggest that its creator was centuries ahead of Copernicus and Galileo by putting the Sun at the centre of the cosmos rather than the Earth.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

Get free Skymania news updates by email

Sign up for alerts to our latest reports. No spam ever - we promise!


Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *