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The Antikythera mechanism can be regarded as the first computer ever devised by mankind. It was designed as a set of interlocking gears of astounding ingenuity to track celestial objects — a machine to display exactly how the sky would look for decades to come.

More than 2000 years ago, unknown ancient polymaths invented this machine, involving two integral parts of a computer: a user interface and a computational engine.

Unlike modern computers, the interface was physical and the computation entirely made up of analogue gears. However, that did not limit its capabilities: the mechanism could forecast the position of the sun and moon, lunar phases and even eclipses. It effectively compensated for the varying speed of the moon due to its elliptical orbit, which itself rotates around the earth every nine years.

For a long time this remarkable invention was lost, until it was first discovered in 1901 on a shipwreck off the coast of Antikythera – an island between Peloponnese and Crete. It took another century, sophisticated radiographic studies and an interdisciplinary team to unravel its complexity.

Today, it marks one of the earliest examples of humans and their effort in design and computational thinking.