Technology Transfer – the Antikythera Machine

Finally, the ancient Greek astronomical gizmo, the Antikythera Machine, made it to the front page of the world’s press.  This bronze and iron gear “calculator” was built around 2,100 years ago, found in a shipwreck in 1901, and just recently decoded by researchers who discovered it to be a highly complex and accurate predictor of the position of the planets, sun, moon, eclipses, etc.  Even more amazing, this technology was lost, and gear-wheel clock mechanisms did not reappear, in a cruder form, until the 14th century!

Here’s a case of Technology Transfer gone wrong – can we learn anything by it?  “Technology transfer,” as used by Angels and other investors, relates to technologies invented by scientific research which are then financed to be commercially introduced and widely adopted.  Xerox PARC is a modern example which invented Graphical User Interfaces, the Ethernet, and laser printing.

The Antikythera Machine was clearly invented and used by the Greeks, but apparently it didn’t become widely adopted, or there would be artifacts found throughout the ages.  Now that we’ve discovered it again, it’s probably more well known today than ever before.  How’s that happen?

Top 5 Points:

1.  We’ve had mass media for a while, and I’ll admit, it was an article in the LA Times which piqued my interest:  “Greeks Owned the Skies” .  I wouldn’t have heard about this story otherwise.  I love stumbling across new information like this.  This is a pretty random method to learn about new technology, though…

2.  An obscure story like this gets picked up instantly by a huge variety and spectrum of media outlets.  I can’t even be sure that it was the LA Times which broke this story.  Just search Google News for “antikythera” today, and you’ll see links to 113+ news articles published within the last 24 hours.  Even HP is promoting that they provided the technology to decode the machine.  At least our media promotes the spread of this news, quickly.

3.  Anyone searching for “Antikythera Mechanism” in Google will find over 50,000 links – and this is just in English!  Clearly, the knowledge is out there.  Yet there are only 320 references in Greek.  Unfortunately, for the Greeks, their dominance in ancient times has not continued into the Internet age…  So far, Google is the tool to widely disseminate knowledge of such a technology.

4.  Marketers are already all over this.  Even eBay and Amazon advertise on AdWords for “Antikythera Mechanism – Looking for Antikythera Mechanism?  Find exactly what you want today. eBay.com”  Okay, this is an inside joke to Internet marketers – is there a term eBay and/or Amazon don’t purchase??  At least I know where to go to buy one.

5.  How many more technological items were invented and lost, which could have had a huge impact on civilization, had they been more widely disseminated?  Check out these real, totally absurd inventions.

It just took the brilliant Antikythera Mechanism 2,100 years to reach the front page, although it was still not the most viewed article in today’s LA Times – that distinction went to “Britney’s upskirt pix take Web by storm”!  I’m not even going to give you the link to that one.  Yikes.

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