The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

king me
What, or who, was The Turk?

As the book will tell you, it was an 18th/19th-century automaton that was supposedly unbeatable in chess, taking on the likes of Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin.

The Turk can be considered the inspiration for modern-day computers like IBM's Deep Blue--in more ways than one, based on what Charles Babbage's observation of The Turk reaped. In a more oblique way, The Turk helped Edgar Allan Poe develop the modern detective genre.

I think I'll have to pick up the book. It took me a while of reading amid these various websites to figure out whether this machine actually ever existed, or if it was some sort of historical-fiction hoax. I'm surprised I've never come across it before.