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NOVA: Ancient Computer DVD
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Item No.: NOVA6253
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An unpromising lump of metal found in a 2,000-year-old shipwreck turns out to be an extraordinary treasure: the world's first computer. NOVA follows the ingenious detective work that painstakingly discovered the truth about the ancient Greek device: it was an astonishingly sophisticated astronomical calculator and eclipse predictor, unrivaled until the era of modern science and believed to be from the workshop of Archimedes.
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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
PBSNOVA: Ancient Computer DVD
 
4.8

(based on 6 reviews)

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Reviewed by 6 customers

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(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Terrific show!

By kriss

from Piscataway, NJ

Comments about PBS NOVA: Ancient Computer DVD:

This is one of the best programs I have ever seen! If you are interested in ancient history and/or technology, buy it. You will be astounded as the true story unfolds of an amazing discovery and how its secrets were unraveled to reveal an intricate, exact, mechanical computer that lay buried under water for nearly 2,000 years.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

awesome

By Ron the math teacher

from Olympia Wa

Comments about PBS NOVA: Ancient Computer DVD:

Incredible research into the technology of the Hellenistic period, and our abilities to examine artifacts in new ways.

(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

The Holy Grail of engineering genius

By Lord Fader

from Portland

Verified Reviewer

Comments about PBS NOVA: Ancient Computer DVD:

I've seen a lot of really cool shows on PBS but this is the absolute coolest thing I've ever seen. A must view for anyone who appreciates engineering and persons of pure genius. The guy who built this was the DaVinci and Einstein of his day. Also a must see for anyone who likes to work with their hands, as you have to wonder how anyone could have done this with primitive tools.....

(7 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

The Marvelous Antikythera Mechanism

By Computer History Nerd

from Baltimore, MD

Verified Reviewer

Comments about PBS NOVA: Ancient Computer DVD:

A fascinating overview of work by the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project and other modern scholars to decode the mystery of this amazing artifact. The way in which innovative x-ray and imaging technology reveal pieces of the puzzle and combine with the insights of modern mathematicians, historians, and scholars to decode the puzzles makes for a story that is simultaneously exciting and educational. Especially illuminating is that every time a feature of the mechanism was initially dismissed as not significant or indecipherable, it ended up representing convincingly and accurately ever more subtle aspects of the astronomical universe as understood by the ancient world. It teaches us new respect for the sophistication achieved by early civilizations. Though popular ancient history tends to focus on the colossal engineering and artistic heights achieved by ancient civilizations, the Antikythera Mechanism as illuminated by modern day research offers us a faint, far-away peak into smaller, quieter wonder of the ancient world. It whispers that we are still just beginning to appreciate the intellectual brilliance which once shown at the center of those lost civilizations.

On the whole, the program does an excellent job of telling the story for its intended audience. Hopefully the project will eventually publish a book that updates Price's "Gears from the Greeks" with the new academic details, sources and insights which (of necessity) are only mentioned briefly here.

A note on word usage - whether the mechanism is properly described as a "computer", given the modern use of that word, is a bit dubious - it was a special purpose device, not the programmable, general purpose tool for calculation we associate with that word today - and even granting the word applies the mechanism's sophistication argues that it is only the "earliest known surviving computer" rather than the "world's first computer." (The program itself discusses this.) Not a huge problem, and certainly not something that takes away from the interest/importance of the mechanism itself, but something for teachers to mention in the interest of correctness when showing it to students.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Saw this complex discovery on Nova TV

By goldie08

from Canada

Verified Reviewer

Comments about PBS NOVA: Ancient Computer DVD:

It is remarkable how the scientists managed to piece together the history and use of their find. It is fairly similar to what was outlined in ancient Indian text and illustrates how this knowledge goes back to many centuries through many lands.

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