Reincarnation of a Marvel

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Norbert Ryska

Welcome to the guests
by the HNF manager Norbert Ryska
within a worthy setting
The evening of March 25th, 2004 at the Paderborn Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum (HNF) was not only a definite highlight for chess historians as the world’s largest computer museum presented for the first time an operative reproduction of the Turk to the astonished audience. I found it nice that this "reincarnation" was given a worthy setting - congratulations to the organizer!
After an introduction by the HNF manager, Mr. Norbert Ryska the official speaker of the evening, Prof. Ernst Strouhal from the University of Applied Art in Vienna could get more than 400 spectators in the right mood for the historico-cultural background of this "automaton" and his brilliant creator, the Austrian public servant Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804).

(This lecture is mainly given in KARL issue 4/2002 – thanks to the editorial staff, particularly to our member Johannes Fischer that this article is now to be found in the Internet – see KARL online).

KARL issue 4/2002
Prof. Ernst Strouhal

Ernst Strouhal giving his lecture on an
interesting minor figure of history,
the Austrian court counsellor Wolfgang von Kempelen
(born in Bratislava) and his creations
as well as other "androids" of that time.

The Turk

The Turk ...
Wolfgang von Kempelen

... and his architect
Wolfgang von Kempelen


Organ Player

The famous trio of androids by the mechanic and clockmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-07-28 to 1790-11-28) is a real marvel, it was created about 1774 at La Chaux-de-Fonds and is now in the Musée d’art et d’histoire at Neuchâtel.
The organ player (picture on the left) simulated breathing and looked in turns at the notes, her hands and the audience. She is able to play five different pieces especially composed for her.
The writer (picture above) is able to write any text of up to 40 characters. The third android, a draughtsman produces four different drawings.

Something more detailed is Henner Schneider in Wissenschaftliche Grundlagen: reale und abstrakte Automaten, section
Die Androiden der Jaquet-Droz (pdf-file; in German only) (source: Internet)

The bilingual website of Philippe Sayous is completely devoted to the androids and automatons of the 18th century:
The androids and artificial animals website (in French/English)