The Romans were undoubtedly master engineers. They were experts at civil engineering, building roads, improving sanitation, inventing Roman concrete, and constructing aqueducts that adhere to tolerances impressive even by today's standards. Perhaps the best evidence of their aptitude is the fact that many of those structures still stand today, almost 2000 years later. They even began dabbling in technology vastly ahead of their time. Hero of Alexandria drew up plans for a rudimentary steam engine in his Spiritalia seu Pneumatica. He called it the aeolipile. It didn't work very well. However, by the late 3rd century AD, all essential parts for constructing a steam engine were known to Roman engineers: Hero's steam power, the crank and connecting rod mechanism (in the Hierapolis sawmill), the cylinder and piston (in metal force pumps), non-return valves (in water pumps) and gearing (in water mills). That got me thinking: Could the Romans have built a digital computer using only the technology and manufacturing processes available to them?
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