How many Antikythera Computers were there, likely?

…Many of us know of the “Antikythera Computer”, a mechanical astronomical (?) calculator recovered from a Greek shipwreck, dated from 82 B.C.

My question is…how many of these things do they think were actually built? Were we just lucky enough to find the only prototype, which had been unlucky enough to have been lost in action?

Derek de Solla Price was always pretty cautious about this particular aspect of the Antikythera Mechanism. The exciting possibility clearly was that it’d happened to be the only surviving example of many such items. However, you might expect some mentions of the topic in the surviving Greek technical/mathematical literature. The nearest he could find was that Cicero had seen a planetarium device on Rhodes, constructed for Posidonios. Furthermore, the Mechanism doesn’t appear to have been a navigational device in use on the ship. It was probably more along the lines of an elaborate object d’art. That makes it much more likely to be a one-off. Price even pointed out that it was theoretically possible, though obviously unlikely, that it was exactly the same device seen by Cicero.

What a fascinating question. This has an animation of how the mechanism may have worked.

Given the lack of any surviving mention of such devices in classical works it must have been a pretty rare. Which makes it quite miraculous that it survived at all. My guess is that it was unique, or at most part of a very limited number of such devices made.

Please note–in the past, our ancestors were not so profligately wasteful of good metal as we are today. Oh my, no.

If a metal tool or object broke, it was quickly tossed into the “scraps bucket”. Later, when the bucket was full, the local smith or tinker would melt down the scrap metal, & re-work it into new tools.

If there were others, it’s likely they were melted down when the gears wore out.

The only thing that preserved this one was getting sunk with a ship.