World’s Oldest Known Computer, LEGO Style

New Scientist has an article up about the world’s oldest known computer being revived with the use of LEGO.

The Antikythera mechanism dates back to over 2000 years and had been found sitting on the bottom of the ocean in a shipwreck over a hundred years ago, in 1900.

Andrew Carol is the LEGO guru who managed to bring the computer back to life, and was tasked with rebuilding it in LEGO after a journalist, Adam Rutherford, had seen Carol’s Babbage Difference Engine. The Babbage Difference Engine was designed in the late 1700s and early 1800s, but was never built until 1991. The Antikythera mechanism on the other hand, was actually built and was used to make astronomical calculations.

It’s called the world’s oldest known computer, because it is so complex and mechanically refined that scientists and researchers believe there had to be unknown (as of yet) predecessors. Among other functions, it could be used to calculate solar eclipses.

In summing up the projec, Rutherford claimed:

“We recreated a 1st century BC computer out of the best toy humankind has ever invented”

* Article at New Scientist
* Antikythera mechanism at Wikipedia.

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