Meet the 2,100-Year-Old Computer From Ancient Greece
If your definition of computer is a beige box with a keyboard and mouse sprouting out of the back, then prepare to have your horizons expanded a bit. Back in 1900, a device called the Antikythera Mechanism was discovered in a ship's wreckage near a Greek island of the same name. For years researchers weren't really sure what the thing did, but recent examinations -- published on Wednesday in 'Nature' magazine -- are shedding much more light into its ability to function as a calendar, and even to track the Olympic games.
It's believed the device used a set of gears to correlate lunar months to calendar months. Recent high-resolution X-ray scans have enabled researchers to read engravings on the device, identifying the names of months and, interestingly, the words relating to the locations of the Olympic games.
The four-year cycle of years leading to the competitions was a common way for Greek citizens to mark the passage of time, with the games themselves taking on religious significance. This year's Olympics are taking on a rather different significance when it comes to computers, unfortunately. [Source: The New York Times and AP]