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Electro-Mechanical Computing Machines,
combine mechanical and electrical components to implement their discrete or digital combinatorial logic, and along with memory, sequential logic. Components include switches, electromagnetic actuators, and most commonly relays. While pure computing is nowadays the domain of electronics, Robots, including dedicated chess playing devices, along with their sensors and actuators are the domain of mechatronics, a design process that includes a combination of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, control engineering and computer engineering.

Chess Machines

Beside the early mechanical and electro mechanical calculators and general purpose computers, like the relais computers by Konrad Zuse, Howard H. Aiken, and George Stibitz, there were early electro-mechanical dedicated chess machines, most notably El Ajedrecista, the electro-mechanical KRK Solver by Leonardo Torres y Quevedo of 1912 and Claude Shannon's relay-based chess machine, built in 1949, to play some endings with up to six pieces. Tihamér Nemes designed an electro-mechanical mate solver in the late 40's [1].

El Ajedrecista

see main article El Ajedrecista
Gonzalo Torres y Quevedo and Norbert Wiener, El Ajedrecista II [2] [3]

Nemes' Chess Machine

Nemes' design of a theoretical chess-machine [4]

Shannon's Chess Machine

Quote of the text on the back on the photo, as given in ICCA Journal, Vol. 12, No. 4: [5] :
Dr. Claude E. Shannon demonstrating to Chessmaster Edward Lasker his (home-made) electric chess automation, build in 1949. The machine could handle up to six pieces, and was designed to test various programming methods. With one hundred and fifty relay operations required to complete a move, it arrived at the reply to an opponent's play in ten to fifteen seconds. It had built into it a random element, and as a result did not necessarily always make the same move when faced with the same position.

2-0 and 2-1.shannon_lasker.prior_1970.102645398.NEWBORN.lg.jpg
Computer pioneer Claude Shannon and chess champion Edward Lasker at MIT, ponder the computational
aspects of playing chess at Shannon's early relay-based chess machine [6]

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  1. ^ Tihamér Nemes (1949). Chess automation. Magyar Sakkvilág, p. 51
  2. ^ A New Photograph of “El jugador ajedrecista,” the World’s First Chess Computer by Nathan Bauman, July 16th, 2006
  3. ^ David Mindell, Jérôme Segal, Slava Gerovitch (2003). Cybernetics and Information Theory in the United States, France and the Soviet Union. in Mark Walker, Science and Ideology: A Comparative History » Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener, covers the 1951 Paris Cybernetic Congress
  4. ^ A design of a theoretical chess-machine to solve chess exercises in two steps, from The Hungarian Ljapunov: Dr. Tihamér NEMES (1895-1960) (pdf)
  5. ^ Photo of courtesy of Mrs. Shannon and Jos Uiterwijk, ICCA Journal, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 217. Quote of the text on the back on the photo
  6. ^ Shannon and Lasker at Shannon's chess machine, ca. 1950 Gift of Monroe Newborn from The Computer History Museum
  7. ^ Analytical Engine from Wikipedia
  8. ^ Percy Ludgate from Wikipedia
  9. ^ Vannevar Bush

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