Tom Standage has written the history of a mechanical chess player that was so successful that people referred to it as "The Turk." Two hundred and thirty-five years ago, Wolfgang von Kempelen put together this machine that looked like a Turkish man seated at a desk with an arm raised over a chessboard. Von Kempelen had his machine play chess with Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Catherine the Great of Russia, and other famous opponents.
For thirty-five years (until his death), no one could guess the secret of how von Kempelen's machine worked. After von Kempelen's death, The Turk was purchased by Johann Maelzel and played Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon, and Edgar Allen Poe, among others, and still nobody discovered the secret of how it worked.
After Maelzel's death in 1838, Edgar Allen Poe's doctor purchased The Turk. His son finally revealed how it worked. The Turk was destroyed in a fire in 1854. Almost one hundred and twenty years later, someone started an eighteen-year project to build a replica of The Turk. This fascinating story will keep you guessing as you read about The Turk beating opponent after opponent.
This report prepared by Maurice A. Williams