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Nova: Ancient Computer (2012)

 NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Pbs (Direct)
  • DVD Release Date: January 8, 2013
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,197 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift from the sea April 4, 2013
As you read this review there are some 3 million ship wrecks lying beneath the waves (most unexplored).

In 1901 one of those ship wrecks -- of a Roman trading vessel that sunk while headed home to port --was discovered by Greek spong divers. Among its treasures were hoards of coins, various statues, amphoras of wine and most importantly an ancient computer.

For most of the past 100 years that ancient computer has been an enigma. Interestingly enough the size of a contemporary laptop, the ancient computer now is basically one rusted hunk of metal through which observers can easily see the evidences of gear mechanisms that it used for whatever its purpose was.

In one of history's great detective stories this DVD removes the rust from the device revealing not only what it looked like in antiquity but also what its purpose was and who probably made it. In terms of its appearance, it's like a larger version of the inside of an old watch, with its interconnected gears toothed gears. Though it lacks it now it used to have a face plate on one side that showed the movements of the moon and also the then known five planets. On the back it had another face which revealed future eclipses showing the year, month, date and time when they would occur. The purpose of the device testified to the importance ancients then ascribed to knowing the movements of the stars in the heavens. Though we no longer employ the practice such matters used to effect decisions on the part of Kings and Emporers as to the timing and fact of whether they'd go to war.

Perhaps most interesting however is the question of who made this device. It's interesting because the man attributed to creating this device was none other than the Greek genuis Archimedes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont underestimate our ancient ancestors May 6, 2013
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This is a superb reissue of a great British program on perhaps the greatest archaeological find of all time. This computer (antikythera mechanism) pushed back the history of complex (differential) gearing by about 1700 years! The forensics of determining how this thing works is fascinating. This program doesn't entail technical issues as these are intricate and require a great deal of knowledge of astronomy. This device was a calendar computer that could predict eclipses among other things. It tells alot about ancient Greek social issues as well. A good video for high school students (history and science).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Exposed May 1, 2013
By Kealani
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How amazing to watch today's scientists create new technology so we can understand the most amazing artifact yet uncovered. Ancient Greece had a working mechanical computer!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelieveable and Unforgettable! June 4, 2013
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This should be required watching, especially if you are of Greek descent! It is inspiring, relevant and impressive. I have ordered it for several friends and family members.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Look Into The Past May 28, 2013
A compelling documentary about an artifact retrieved from a Greek shipwreck a century ago: a corroded metallic object that baffled experts for years. The documentary follows current day experts using technology and reverse engineering to explore the secrets of what was in fact an mechanized device, a thousand years or more ahead of its time. History, engineering, math, and science are all explored, and the various expert commentary brings with it an enthusiasm for the subject that keeps the audience engaged.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Program July 24, 2013
By Lynn
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Its amazing what the Greeks were capable of 2000 years ago. At least Archimedes was an amazing man. I highly recommend it
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