3 models of mechanical computers used centuries ago – How smart Technology changing lives


Computers have not always had the same design that we have known for decades.

Surely the first thing we think of when reading the title is large screens, state-of-the-art software and hardware elements with a futuristic design. Nevertheless, the models you’ll see below date back a few centuries. Attentive to everything that is involved in these analog and mechanical computers.

Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera Mechanism

Astrology, in all its areas, brings mysteries that go back thousands of years. Thanks to the curiosity and perseverance of those passionate about the subject at the time, it was possible to continue researching and developing equipment to further study the cosmos, including the Antikythera mechanism, the device listed as the oldest mechanical computer, at least according to the scientists’ conclusion.

Its discovery was made in 1091, in an ancient shipwreck on the Greek island of Antikythera. According to researchers, the creation of this invention dates back to 205 BC. C. and 87 a. C. and it was already quite used by the time of the sinking. Its construction was made in a wooden box with a matrix of 37 bronze gears and this represented the mechanical model of what was then known as the universe (the solar system along with Jupiter and Saturn).

By using a pair of dials on the front and turning the crank on the side of the mechanism, you could scroll through the Egyptian calendar and the 12 zodiac signs to predict what would look like at night. According to scientists, models like these evolved from simpler mechanical computers.

Castle Clock: Ismail al-Jazari

The world’s first programmable analog computer, that’s the distinction that the masterpiece created by Ismail al-Jazari has. Back in the 12th century, this inventor, mathematician and mechanical engineer, was recognized, among other things, by the Book of knowledge of ingenious mechanical devices, a copy that showed his projects for the time, including the Castle Water Clock . In short, it is one of the most advanced water clocks of the time, as it had the correct coordination and the ability to reprogram itself to adjust the water level of the driving mechanism in measured intervals. In this way, it was possible to adjust the length of the day throughout the year.

Through all the contributions he made at the time, he is now recognized as the father of robotics, in part thanks to the water clock devices with prescribed action capabilities for, for example, playing a drum so that the time sounds.

Pascalina by Blaise Pascal


To this day, the Pascalina is considered the world’s first practical mechanical arithmetic calculator. Following work related to fiscal and tax functions of an accountant (simply balance, account and payment figures) in 1639, Pascal wanted to create a machine that reinvented the typical process of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with the reams of mathematical tables They had pre-calculated figures for various operations.

So in the end he ended up developing a machine that could add and subtract mechanically thanks to the use of wheels and switches. For multiplication and division, operations could also be done using a series of addition and subtraction. With this, the modifications allowed to adjust the size of the Pascalina for office use and that in this way the person entered the numbers and the desired operation, in order to receive the automatic result with the values ​​of a wheel.

In the list that arrives thanks to the guys from Interesting Engineering, it is also revealed that thanks to the development of this tool, focused as a mechanical automation solution in a machine that performs arithmetic operations, it is possible to see what we know as a current computer’s CPU . The reason for this lies in the fact that Pascalin is the analog equivalent to an arithmetic processing unit, one of the most important components of the processor modern computer. In other words, the digital process can be seen as the evolution of the mechanical functions of Pascalina automatic transport, which offers the possibility that a CPU can operate at a high speed.


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