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The Turk: the life and times of the famous eighteenth-century chess-playing machine

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Walker & Co.,
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On an autumn day in 1769, a Hungarian nobleman named Wolfgang von Kempelen attended a conjuring show at the court of Maria Theresa, empress of Austria-Hungary. So unimpressed was Kempelen by the performance that he declared he could do better himself. Maria Theresa held him to his word and gave him six months to prepare a show of his own. Kempelen did not disappoint; he returned to the court the following spring with a mechanical man, fashioned from wood, powered by clockwork, dressed in a stylish Turkish costume--and capable of playing chess.

The Turk, as this contraption became known, was an instant success, and Tom Standage's book chronicles its illustrious career in Europe and America over the next eighty five years. Associated over time with a host of historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, Catherine the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Babbage, and Edgar Allan Poe, Kempelen's creation unwittingly also helped to inspire the development of the power loom, the computer, and the detective story. Everywhere it went, the Turk baffled spectators and provoked frenzied speculation about whether a machine could really think. Many rival theories were published, but they served only to undermine each other.

Part historical detective story, part biography, The Turk relates the saga of the machine's remarkable and checkered career against the backdrop of the industrial revolution, as mechanical technology opened up dramatic new possibilities and the relationship between people and machines was being redefined. Today, in the midst of the computer age, it has assumed a new significance, as scientists and philosophers continue to debate the possibility of machine intelligence. To modern eyes, the Turk now seems to have been a surprisingly farsighted invention, and its saga is a colorful and important part of the history of technology.

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Grouping Information

Grouped Work IDe16dc12f-91b7-419f-d22d-174f622e2be9
Grouping Titleturk the life and times of the famous eighteenth century chess playing machine
Grouping Authorstandage tom
Grouping Categorybook
Last Grouping Update2019-07-24 17:26:10PM
Last Indexed2019-11-13 03:58:38AM

Solr Details

authorStandage, Tom.
author_displayStandage, Tom
detailed_location_basaltBasalt Non Fiction
Bib IdItem IdShelf LocCall NumFormatFormat CategoryNum CopiesIs Order ItemIs eContenteContent SourceeContent FileeContent URLsubformatDetailed StatusLast CheckinLocationSub-location
ils:.b20704161.i32978789Basalt Non Fiction794.1 STA1falsefalseOn Shelfbanf
literary_formNon Fiction
literary_form_fullNon Fiction
local_callnumber_basalt794.1 STA
owning_library_basaltBasalt Regional Library
Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
ils:.b20704161BookBooksEnglishWalker & Co., 2002.xiv, 272 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.
Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
ils:.b20704161.i32978789On ShelfOn Shelffalsetruetruefalsefalsetrue116, 117, 118, 119, 120
subject_facetAutomaton chess players
Kempelen, Wolfgang von, -- 1734-1804
Ml̃zel, Johann Nepomuk, -- 1772-1838
title_displayThe Turk : the life and times of the famous eighteenth-century chess-playing machine
title_fullThe Turk : the life and times of the famous eighteenth-century chess-playing machine / Tom Standage
title_shortThe Turk
title_subthe life and times of the famous eighteenth-century chess-playing machine
topic_facetAutomaton chess players
Kempelen, Wolfgang von
Ml̃zel, Johann Nepomuk