Friday, June 7, 2013

Laptop Computer Discovered On Ancient Greek Vase

by Stephen J. Gertz

μήλο φορητό υπολογιστή

Evidence that ancient Greek civilization possessed advanced technology beyond the Antikythera mechanism, the earliest complex mechanical instrument, used for calculating the movements of the stars and predicting solar and lunar eclipses - in short, a prototype computer - has been strengthened by the discovery of a laptop computer depicted on an ancient Greek vase.

The image is of the Oracle of Orpheus, the head of Orpheus offering prophecies to a young man who records the predictions on his laptop while Apollo observes at right.

Identified on the vase as μήλο φορητό υπολογιστή, tech-anthropologists have yet to discern how the device's mechanism worked; there is no visible evidence of power cord or battery. The young man appears to be operating a crude pedal with his right foot, apparently the source for power generation.

In what is, perhaps, the most troubling aspect of this image, Orpheus's head, supposedly buried near Antissa on the island of Lesbos after his body was torn apart by Thracian Maenads, is depicted as a late 20th century news anchor, a typical "talking head." This is radical because in ancient myth the head of Orpheus is usually singing mournful torch songs for Eurydice. It's tantamount to Frank Sinatra transmogrifying into the Oracle at Delphi and delivering a cryptic message as a late night news bulletin:

It's a quarter to three, there's no one in the shrine 'cept you and me.
So set 'em up Zeus, I gotta little story that ends in a noose.
We're drinkin' mead,  friend,
To the end
Of a brief episode.
So make it one for Eurydice,
And one more for the road

Orpheus rejected worship of all Gods except the sun, whom he called Apollo. But even Apollo had his limits and after listening to the Oracle of Orpheus until he couldn't stand it any longer, gave Orpheus the hook and shut his mouth. Here, Apollo seems to be saying, "Hey, I want one of those things!" It is entirely possible that this vase and its message went ancient-world viral.

In a telling detail, the young man is using a stylus to depress the computer's keys, conclusively demonstrating that from the very beginning laptop makers presumed everyone had toothpick fingers able to navigate a cramped keyboard design inspired by canned sardines.


  1. Amazing !! Wi-Fi available that long ago!

  2. It's tantamount to Frank Sinatra transmogrifying into the Oracle at Delphi and delivering a cryptic message as a late night news bulletin:what is the best laptop for me


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