Science Technology TED Talk - 13th Century Astrolabe, the First Popular Computers By Jaymi Heimbuch Writer California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer specializing in wildlife conservation. She is the author of The Ethiopian Wolf: Hope at the Edge of Extinction. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Jaymi Heimbuch Updated October 11, 2018 Migrated Image Share Twitter Pinterest Email Science Space Natural Science Technology Agriculture Energy Image via TED Sometimes event the newest gadgets are overshadowed by really, really old gadgets. Ancient technology is amazing, and Tom Wujec shows the astrolabe, one of the earliest computing gadgets. With the capability of telling time, mapping the night sky, and hundreds of other functions that were high tech for the 1200s (and earlier), the device shows us that not everything has to be electronic and battery powered to do some cool things. It's amazing that a rather complex computing device was in such common use - complete with user manuals! It's certainly easier to use the gadgets we have right now over the astrolabe, but it would take quite a few apps on an iPhone to gather the same information as what this device can give after a bit of calibration.