Charles Babbage (1792-1871) was an English mathematician and inventor
whose research and prototypes made significant contributions to
the development of a mechanical calculating machine.
Two years after his death, Harper’s Weekly ran an
article about Babbage, the middle paragraphs of which
revealed his great vision in foreseeing calculating machines
(called “computers” today) that would be able to give proofs
of sophisticated mathematical theorems and be able to evaluate and
select the proper moves necessary for playing chess.
Credit for stimulating the modern quest for computer chess
is sometimes given to a 1950 essay by Claude Shannon, a Bell
Laboratories scientist, but reading the Harper’s Weekly
article uncovers the existence of the idea nearly a century
before. In 1997, chess master Garry Kasparov was defeated in a chess
match by IBM’s Deep Blue computer; in 2003, the two played to a