Robot Checker Player Is Undefeated (Jun, 1938)

Does anybody know how this worked? My guess is that there is a guy in a robot suit. I have serious doubts that in 1938 they could build a robot articulate enough to manipulate the pieces even if it was fully remote controlled.

Robot Checker Player Is Undefeated

OWNED by Frank Frain, of New York, N. Y., a mechanically created robot is said to have played in more than 25,000 checker matches without being defeated. Sponsored by a well know radio manufacturer, the “Magic Brain Checker Player,” as the robot is known, is making a tour of the country. Standing six feet tall and weighing 500 pounds, the robot disdainfully sweeps the checkerboard clear of checkers if its opponent attempts to cheat.

7 comments
  1. Blurgle says: June 8, 20076:56 am

    I don’t know how he worked, but I think I saw him on Star Trek once, in “The Corbomite Maneuver”

  2. MAKE: Blog says: June 8, 20078:05 am

    Cameras on bike wheels, death ray, robo-checker player and thinking in glass…

    Cameras spin on bicycle wheel to film lightning streak, Popular Mechanics – 1936 – Link. Inventor hides secret of “Death Ray” – “Pigeons on the wing instantly killed by death rays from a machine four miles away—that is the……

  3. dallas says: June 8, 20079:06 am

    Sounds to me like the mechanical turk. http://en.wikipedia.org…

  4. Keys says: June 8, 200711:27 am

    Reminds me of The Turk:
    http://en.wikipedia.org…

  5. docca says: June 9, 20078:01 am

    It is cited on Time’s Jan 25th 1937 issue:

    http://www.time.com/tim…

    However, the name of the inventor is written as “Frank Train” instead of “Frank Frain”.

  6. docca says: June 9, 20078:02 am

    And by the way, the “well-known radio manufacturer” is RCA :)

  7. phil says: August 19, 20085:41 am

    I suspect that the move the robot wants to play is shown in some way
    that is indecipherable to the opponent, perhaps as a sequence of lights on that front panel
    the operator then “interprets” this display, ignores the silly lights and plays what ever move he thinks is best

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