Another morsel of Internet news describes the discovery of The Antikythera, a mechanical computer that was invented prior to the Birth of Christ. So where does this leave Babbage, Lovelace, and the others who were – or so we thought – at the leading edge of computers?
The Antikythera is described as a series of gears and dials that made addition, subtraction, division multiplication, as well as calculating a square root somewhat easier.
Who were these guys who were apparently a thousand years or two ahead of their time?
My first experience with computers occurred 54 years ago in 1961 when I encountered a navigation system installed on the KC-135A (Boeing 707) aircraft. It consisted of thirteen sealed black boxes, and a control head with two displays that resembled an automobile odometer. The aircraft commander dialed in his position in one display and his destination in the other (latitude and longitude). After he got underway he married it to his autopilot system. Left alone, it guided the aircraft toward the destination, crossing each latitude and longitude at a 60 degree angle, creating a Rhumb line course – a greater distance, but quite accurate.
The aircraft system was binary which apparently the Antikythera was as well, bearing out the old adage: “There’s nothing new under the sun”.