Mechanical Turk
The history of automata (or self-operating machines) is as old as human civilization, with examples of automata found in China, Greece and North Africa hundreds of years before the common era. Mechanical animals were a favourite subject, but in 18th century Europe sophisticated human automata became popular. 

In 1770, a chess playing automaton was created by Wolfgang von Kempelen. It immediately captured the imagination of large audiences and toured Europe and North America until it was destroyed in a fire in 1854. The automaton was regarded as a skilled player and won most of the games played while on tour. 

The possibility of an intelligent machine that could play chess (and defeat humans) has been a persistent dream for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the construction of IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997 that machines consistently achieved that goal. Von Kempelen’s Mechanical Turk was unfortunately a ruse; the machine was in fact guided by the hand of a human chess-master who was elaborately hidden in the interior of the cabinet. 

Dressed in Ottoman robes and a turban, Von Kempelen’s automaton was dubbed the casually racist moniker “the Mechanical Turk,” undoubtedly with the intent to acknowledge the early adoption of chess in Persia and the Middle East. It was also just as likely an attempt to appeal to the exoticism and Orientalism that persistently shaped European perceptions of the Middle East during the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Text To Speech

Philipp Gottfried Printz, Mechanical Turk or The Automaton Chess Player (Three Views), 1783, reproductions of original copper engravings