22 July 2018

Chess Engines for All Ages

Here's a relic from the early days of personal computing.

Chesmac, Finnish chess program, Design Museum, Helsinki, November 2017 © Flickr user hugovk under Creative Commons.

I've cropped out the museum's description on the left. It said,

Chesmac (1979)

Story: Created by Raimo Suonio as a project in his own spare time, the Chesmac chess game was Finland's first-ever commercial computer game. In 1979, Suonio happened to be in between jobs and he developed Chesmac for his own amusement in a little over a month for the Telmac, a Finnish kit-built computer of the late 1970s that didn't have much computing power. Although Suonio was not a professional game designer, he had the designer's curiosity to see if the Telmac TMC-1800 could manage the operations needed in a game of chess. It did, very slowly, but still. A classic was born.

Did you know that: Chesmac was a piece of utopia in its day. A machine that could think strategically with its own artificial intelligence. Issued on C-cassette, Chesmac was also a commercial success. An astounding 104 of them were sold from Rains Suonio's new place of work, the Topdata firm. This was a respectable figure in Finland in the 1970s and 1980s. Ironically enough, Suonio, the designer of the game, still hasn't become interested in chess.

Lead Designer: Raimo Suonio
Released by: Raimo Suonio / Topdata
Platform: Telmac TMC-1800
Format: C-cassette
Genre: Problem-solving game / single player

The screen says '37-35', which must be Chesmac notation for 'c7-c5'. Did the machine discover the Sicilian (1.e4 c5) on its own?

No comments: