PBS recently aired a fascinating episode of NOVA, titled “Ancient Computer,” which details the discovery and study of a geared machine, dubbed the Antikythera Mechanism. Fragments of this machine, determined to be from around 100 BC, were discovered on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900. But, it wasn’t until a century later, that a team of scientists were able to use modern technology to unravel what the machine did and how it worked.
After much study, the scientists determined that this ingenious system of 30 (or more) gears was able to predict solar and lunar eclipses and the movement of the planets known at that time. It could even take into account the elliptical orbits of the moon and planets. This machine is believed to be the first analog computer.
This episode is currently available to view at PBS.org and on YouTube (embedded below).
And just for fun…