Free 50 Best Homemade Tools eBook:  
Remove advertisements
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: 1770 Mechanical Turk chess machine

  1. #1
    Jon
    Jon is online now Jon has agreed the Seller's Terms of Service
    Administrator Jon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    12,225
    Thanks
    2,173
    Thanked 2,775 Times in 1,253 Posts

    1770 Mechanical Turk chess machine

    The Mechanical Turk was a chess-playing machine built in 1770. It was displayed as a chess-playing robotic mechanical wonder, when in fact it was a very clever hoax - it was designed to conceal a human chess player, who operated the "robotic" chess player via magnets and levers. With the top and front removed, it looked something like this:

    (The Turk is the larger chess-playing wooden figure, and the actual human chess player is the smaller one concealed inside the box).


    The Mechanical Turk was created by Hungarian inventor and engineer Wolfgang von Kempelen.

    Prior to a game of chess, Kempelen would open the cabinet doors of the machine, "proving" that there was nothing inside but various mechanical workings. At the time, the development of science was such that the Turk was considered by most not to be magical, but more likely a very complex machine. In fact, the Turk concealed a hidden human chess player who was actually positioned on a sliding seat, and would move from side to side inside the Turk cabinet as Kempelen made his pre-game display.



    The Turk became more and more famous, but Kempelen wasn't particularly happy about it, instead preferring to work on steam engines and his human speech replication machine. He dismantled the Turk, but was ordered by the King of Germany to reconstruct it for a performance with the Grand Duke of Russia, in 1781. This display was so successful that the Grand Duke convinced Kempelen to tour Europe with the Turk. It was on this European tour, in Paris, that the Turk played and defeated none other than Benjamin Franklin, who was serving as the US ambassador to France.

    Kempelen then displayed the Turk in London, again toured Europe with it, and then it appears to have stayed at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. In 1804, Kempelen died, and his son sold the Turk to a Bavarian musician named Johann Nepomuk Mälzel. Mälzel learned the Turk's secrets, did some repairs, and put it back in action. In 1809, Napoleon Bonaparte came to Schonbrunn Palace to play the Turk, and the Turk won. Rumor has it that Napoleon tried to cheat, but the Turk became "angry" and swept the pieces off the board.

    Then Mälzel took the Turk to Milan, Paris, and around the UK. In 1826, Mälzel took the Turk on an American tour, where at one point it was even the subject of an 1836 essay by Edgar Allen Poe.



    Many people tried to "debunk" the Turk, but although they were correct in that it wasn't actual artificial intelligence, they thought that a human player was concealed inside the Turk doll (instead of in the cabinet), or that a small child or a trained monkey was hidden inside the workings.

    Mälzel died at sea in 1838, and the Turk changed hands again, first to the captain of the ship, then to a friend, then finally to John Kearsley Mitchell, a Turk admirer who was also the personal physician of Edgar Allen Poe. Mitchell restored the Turk in 1840, then eventually donated it to a museum, where it was destroyed by a fire in 1854.

    In 1984, John Gaughan, an American manufacturer of magician's equipment, started building his own version of the Turk. 214 years after the first Turk was built, Gaughan displayed his reproduction at a history of magic conference in 1989.





    The concept of the Mechanical Turk lives on today in various references in science and literature. Most importantly, it exemplifies a critical analogy of the human experience: hidden inside our most amazing technology is a simple, ordinary human being.

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to Jon For This Useful Post:

    PJs (12-19-2016)

  3. #2
    PJs
    PJs is online now
    PJs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    849
    Thanks
    4,440
    Thanked 705 Times in 444 Posts
    Great write up and post Jon, Thanks. Interesting all the mechanical design into the puppet and below, only to use "Illusion" to sell it to the masses. Some of the illusionist today are masters of designs too with seriously secret crafts. ~PJ
    ‘‘Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.’’
    Mark Twain

  4. #3
    Jon
    Jon is online now Jon has agreed the Seller's Terms of Service
    Administrator Jon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    12,225
    Thanks
    2,173
    Thanked 2,775 Times in 1,253 Posts
    It's interesting you mention that. The Turk used many of the techniques of modern magicians: magnets, levers, people hiding in small spaces, cabinet doors opening and closing in careful order.

    Ironically, while modern illusionists seek to create the illusion that their trick is indeed "magic", the point of the Turk was to convince the viewer that the illusion was actually "science".

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to Jon For This Useful Post:

    PJs (12-21-2016)

  6. #4
    Jon
    Jon is online now Jon has agreed the Seller's Terms of Service
    Administrator Jon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    12,225
    Thanks
    2,173
    Thanked 2,775 Times in 1,253 Posts
    Restored Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin ormolu "conjurer" clock from the mid-1800s.







    More:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_E..._Robert-Houdin
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ormolu

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to Jon For This Useful Post:

    PJs (04-04-2018)

  8. #5
    PJs
    PJs is online now
    PJs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    849
    Thanks
    4,440
    Thanked 705 Times in 444 Posts
    Wow, mid 1800's! Thanks Jon.
    ‘‘Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.’’
    Mark Twain

  9. #6
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    LA, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,361
    Thanks
    91
    Thanked 2,498 Times in 886 Posts
    The mechanism seems fairly simple in concept...

    Two wheels on the same shaft, said shaft attached to a mechanism that can index it and raise and lower it. On the circumference of the wheels at each index position are mounted studs that terminate in the items that will appear under the cups.

    When the cups are down, the wheels lower, index and then push the new objects up through (spring-loaded) holes under the cups. Then the cups are lifted to reveal the new items and the process repeats.

    Probably less than a day to build a working model with Lego or Meccano parts.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


    Home Shop Freeware
    http://www.myvirtualnetwork.com/mklotz

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to mklotz For This Useful Post:

    Frank S (04-04-2018)

  11. #7
    Jon
    Jon is online now Jon has agreed the Seller's Terms of Service
    Administrator Jon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    12,225
    Thanks
    2,173
    Thanked 2,775 Times in 1,253 Posts
    Agreed; this conjurer clock may be among the easier contraptions. But it seems like historical calculators, orreries, and assorted mystery machines are the next wave for advanced hobbyists looking for a new challenge. The videos of high-end restorations by horologists and the like are gaining popularity. Another example: Clickspring building the Antikythera Mechanism. These once-archaic machines have now become cool and campy.

  12. #8
    PJs
    PJs is online now
    PJs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    849
    Thanks
    4,440
    Thanked 705 Times in 444 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    Agreed; this conjurer clock may be among the easier contraptions. But it seems like historical calculators, orreries, and assorted mystery machines are the next wave for advanced hobbyists looking for a new challenge. The videos of high-end restorations by horologists and the like are gaining popularity. Another example: Clickspring building the Antikythera Mechanism. These once-archaic machines have now become cool and campy.
    "Cool and campy" are an interesting choice of words Jon, and get it at some level. To me it is first the vision, then craftsmanship, then the design, and of course the HMT thinking that it took to develop such machines and devices back in history that intrigue me. Perhaps cool and campy in today's language but from a history perspective, time keeping, calculators, and orreries are how we got to HMT's today and a necessity for us to be able to travel the globe and space. To paraphrase Newton, we stand on the shoulders of giants, who pioneered the ideas with vision and perspicacity to develop tools, mechanism, materials etc. to bring forth these visions for us.

    This mechanism like your first posting is what I would call the "art" of mechanical mechanism (automaton) where the details like the filigree and the oriental character/mystical magician depiction were fitting for the time period. It wasn't about how simple the mechanism is but the elegance of the creation like the paintings in the Sistine Chapel, the architecture of Chartres Cathedral or the hand writing automaton in the Smithsonian, which I consider artful and a mechanical wonder for its time.

    I once did a white paper and lecture for IONS about the history of sound as therapy. The earliest recorded sound instrument back then was a 35k year old bird bone flute, which to me was astounding, mainly for how the idea and tools came about in what we consider primitive times. In short, that historical breakthrough eventually ties to Pythagoras, Cardono and Capivacci in the 16th century, to Kepler, Chaldni, Lissajous, Koenig and Shore, then Hemholtz in 1863 (a similar period as your postings) with electrically operated tuning fork and his seminal treatise "On the Sensation of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music"...to today's understanding of vibration and technological developments like EEG (20's), Neuro-Feedback and FMRI's today.

    As with Clipspring's Antikythera Mechanism, not only was it a revolutionary mechanism for the time period but it was the (r)evolution of tools and craftsmanship that changes our perspective of history and the possibility we conceive of. I've always wondered where and how the file came about, not just the use of abrasives but the file as we know it today. In one of his videos he builds his own files from raw materials available at the time, to build the mechanism...empowering and motivating stuff, rife with other possibilities to come forward with. A seemingly simple process, but I would probably buy them now days like everyone else.

    Once again I am thankful for your posting these type of Tool Talk post as they inspire myself and others to create our own Tools and mechanisms to bring more of this forward.

    PJ


    Post your reply!
    Join 33,912 of us and get our 50 Must Read Homemade Tools eBook free.



    50 Must Read Homemade Tools
    ‘‘Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.’’
    Mark Twain

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •