2 posts tagged with turk.
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What is Mechanical Turk?

Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it. In 1769, Hungarian nobleman Wolfgang von Kempelen astonished Europe by building a mechanical chess-playing automaton that defeated nearly every opponent it faced. A life-sized wooden mannequin, adorned with a fur-trimmed robe and a turban, Kempelen’s "Turk" was seated behind a cabinet and toured Europe confounding such brilliant challengers as Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte. Excuse me? Ah, yes. The Mechanical Turk, by Amazon.
posted by nitsuj on Nov 3, 2005 - 37 comments

the life and times of an 18th century hoax

I just finished up reading The Turk by Tom Standage (briefly mentioned in passing here) a biography of the chess-playing automaton that toured Europe and later the Americas during the pivotal transition from the 18th to the 19th century. The Automaton was invented as an exercise in national pride by Wolfgang von Kempelen, who considered it a trifle compared to his experiments with mechanical speech synthesis. As a celebrity, the automaton had historic encounters with Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon, Beethoven, Philidor and Charles Babbage, and fictional encounters with the monarchs Catherine the Great, George III and Frederick II. Standage credits it with influencing the development of the Difference Engine, the power loom, Poe's mystery stories, and Barnum's manipulation of the press. The myths surrounding have even caught James Randi, who seems to have been unaware of a colleague's reconstruction based on notes from the last owner.
posted by KirkJobSluder on Sep 21, 2005 - 7 comments

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