Meet the Antikythera Mechanism

You can take your Treos, iPods, Laptops, HDTVs, xBoxen, PSPs, and Cellphones and forget them. Do you know where they’ll be in 100 years, or even 10? No way. How about in 2156 years? Yah, that’s what we though.

That’s because these gadgets, no matter how practical and ubiquitous, are things we rightly take for granted, they’re the state of the art. None of them are ahead of their time by more than a couple years, the easily foreseeable future.

If you want a real gadget, nerds, then you need to look to the great grandaddy of them all, the Antikythera Mechanism. Discovered in 1901 off the coast of Antikythera island in Greece, the wooden box with intricate gears, and its function, remained a mystery.

Until this week, that is, when a team of researchers announced that it was a staggeringly advanced analog computer that was used to predict the location of sunrises, sunsets, lunar phases, and possibly even the positions of the known planets.

The device had been studied for years, but the team used complex X-Ray tomography to discover the exact configuration of the 30 gears and built a virtual replica, the key to understanding the device and how it worked.

What’s fascinating is that this gadget’s technology didn’t resurface until over a millennium later in medieval Europe’s clock towers. Nobody knows who really made it, or for who, or even really why. All we know is that it existed and what it was used for. Makes waiting in line for a PS3 seem rather idiotic, doesn’t it, fanboy?

Experts: Fragments of Ancient Computer [WaPost]