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list of our chess computers , let's share it
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Steve B
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Full Name: Steve B
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmm

I will Opine that all of those computers were programmed by either Julio Kaplan or Frans Morsch

For my Prize i will take those very nice chess pieces you were kind enough to pick up for me while you were in Brazil

Thankful Regards
Steve
Razz
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spacious_mind
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve B wrote:
Hmmmm

I will Opine that all of those computers were programmed by either Julio Kaplan or Frans Morsch

For my Prize i will take those very nice chess pieces you were kind enough to pick up for me while you were in Brazil

Thankful Regards
Steve
Razz


Actually Steve if you really are interested the person who sold the pieces to me said he could get more sets made.

Here is my guess for the Radioshacks:

RADIO SHACK 4 IN 1 CHESS & CHECKERS = Saitek 4 in 1 programmer ??
RADIO SHACK TANDY COMPUTERIZED CHESS = Scisys programmer ??
RADIO SHACK COMPANION MOD 60-2216 = Saitek Chess Companion programmer?
RADIO SHACK COMPANION MOD 60-2439 = Saitek Travel Companion programmer ??
RADIO SHACK 1450 = no idea
RADIO SHACK Model 1300 SPHINX MADRID = CXG Sphinx Madrid programmer ??
RADIO SHACK TRAVEL CHESS & CHECKERS = Excalibur Ron Nelson
RADIO SHACK 2 IN 1 E-CHESS & CHECKERS = Excalibur Ron Nelson
RADIO SHACK 1650 = Scisys Companion II/Concord II/Explorer Kaare Danielsen
RADIO SHACK 1650 FAST RESPONSE = Scisys Companion II/Concord II/Explorer Kaare Danielsen
RADIO SHACK PORTABLE 1650L = Mephisto Avanti ?? Programmer ??
RADIO SHACK GO 1650L CHESS = Mephisto Avanti Programmer ??
RADIO SHACK PARTNER 1680X = Saitek Olympiad = Programmer ??
RADIO SHACK SUPER 1680L = ??? It says it is a Fast Response program so it could be similar to a Companion II (maybe a Companion III ???)
RADIO SHACK PORTABLE 1750L = ????
RADIO SHACK 1850 = Scisys Companion III - Julio Kaplan
RADIO SHACK TALKING CHESS 1900L = Fidelity Little Chesster
RADIO SHACK MEGA 2050X = Mephisto Schach-Trainer ??? Frans Morsch ??
RADIO SHACK CHAMPION 2150L = Saitek Prisma - Julio Kaplan
RADIO SHACK CHAMPION 2150 = Saitek Simultano - Julio Kaplan
RADIO SHACK MASTER CHESS COMPUTER - Saitek Turbo Advanced Trainer ??
RADIO SHACK MASTER 2200X = Saitek GK2000 ?? Frans Morsch
RADIO SHACK CHAMPION 2250XL = ?? Frans Morsch

The RS 2250XL may be a GK2100 Clone but from all the game tests that I have played sofar it does not repeat the moves in the same way as all the other GK2100 clones so I am pretty sure that it is not an exact clone. MECA in his website shows it to be a clone of Simultano = Maestro B which is definately not corrrect.

Best regards
_________________
Nick
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martinus
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have Novag Aquamarine Risc II 26,6 Mhz
The sole chess computer in all my life. Bought it new in 1998 or so, keeps playing good chess.
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Chest-Nut
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Full Name: Gregory Wong
Location: Ottawa, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I won't really considered myself a collector. As I enjoy play games with them and watch how they play against each others. Or am I a collector? Anyway, I am listing what I have in the order of my favorite

1) Novag Citrine
2) Novag Super Expert C
3) Novag Star Diamond
4) Novag Obsidian
5) Mephisto Master
6) RadioShack Master 2200x
7) RadioShack 2150
Cool Novag VIP

I guess my 9th one will be the Excalibur Phantom Force. And it could become my #2 favorite, if it is well made and with the similar size as the Citrine.

And how did an 8th item changed to a Cool face? Rolling Eyes I think I found a bug here... Wink

Gregroy
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CraigNBarnes
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Joined: 17 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:13 pm    Post subject: Re: list of our chess computers , let's share it Reply with quote

Hi Everyone,

I realize I'm a few years late adding to the "collectors" discussion but I thought I'd add a bit more history...

I'm Craig Barnes. I worked with Julio Kaplan for many years developing chess computers. He recruited me in 1980 as part of a small company called Teletape Productions to develop a chess game for Mattel. After that project I ran off to a brief juggling career but then joined Julio in 1982 as he was starting his own company, Heuristic Software Corporation. We had a few other clients initially but ultimately wound up doing all our work for Saitek (formerly SciSys). I did the bulk of the programming although Julio also did a lot and from time to time we added other people. In 1995 the Saitek work dried up and HSC closed down. However I shortly wound up continuing to do computer chess projects for Saitek into 2001. In the later years there was a bit of melding -- Saitek acquired Mephisto (and perhaps others computer chess lines?) and in at least one instance bought code from others (Franz Morsch) and incorporated it into a Saitek product. I'm given to understand that more models and units were primarily written by me than be any other chess programmer.

For those who don't know, Julio Kaplan was an International Master and the World Junior Chess Champion in 1967. As for myself, I was a US and FIDE master, and was US National High School Champion (1972). We must have been the two strongest chessplayers involved in commercial chess games, except for British IM David Levy in the early days. Although good chess ability isn't a prerequisite to be a chess programmer (most programs even back then often became stronger than their creators), it certainly doesn't hurt when it comes to incorporating strategical conepts or recognizing bad moves. However, Julio and I rarely worked on "high-end" games, since it was much more lucrative to make the best models in the lower- and mid-range niches.

Saitek's games were sold worldwide under their own name (sometimes with Kasparov's name and endorsement) and also under Tandy (Radio Shack), although not all of Radio Shack's games were ours. I also frequently saw our games in the Sharper Image catalog and elsewhere. Over the years we made programs of all shapes and sizes, from small travel sets, to nice wooden boards with communications and plug-in modules, and with all sorts of features (voice, lessons, master chessgame databases, etc). And challenges -- we made one product that ran in only 2k ROM and 128 NIBBLES of RAM. Aaah, memories, memories...

TTFN,
Craig
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Steve B
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Craig

Thanks for that very interesting and informative post
in case you didnt see it ..you have a Wiki page
http://www.schach-computer.info/wiki/index.php/Barnes,_Craig

i wonder if you have kept any of the dedicated computers that you programmed?

Regards
Steve
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IA
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Posts: 418
Location: Spain

PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Craig, I am interested in the History about the programming of Mephisto Chess Academy:

http://www.schach-computer.info/wiki/index.php/Mephisto_Schachakademie

I see that this model is programmed by Craig Barnes & Frans Morsch ... Rolling Eyes The Engine program is typical of Frans Morsch of 32K?

Regards....
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CraigNBarnes
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the wiki link. I did so many games over the years that I haven't kept track of them all, but 20 years times a couple per year = a lot. Generally we only dealt with prototypes with exposed wires and connectors, and rarely (it seems) actually got a final product or even knew what the packaged name was (versus our internal project name). For a couple of projects I wrote software that completely emulated the target microprocessor as well as showing me the program's chess logic.

I seem to have the following units (some with boxes) (note: some might actually be prototypes rather than actual products):

SciSys Electronic Trio (c.1983?) (travel pegboard chess/checkers/tic-tac-toe in 4k/256 nibbles)

Saitek Calculator Chess (1992) (4-function-calculator-with-memory 4k/256 nibbles; has a slideout pegboard, although input is done with the calculator keys)

Tandy 1650 Sensory Chess (travel pegboard)

Saitek "Rennaissance" (c.1986) (nice large wooden board, serial communications, pull-out LCD chessboard), which can take slide-in modules to supercede the original program -- I have the "Maestro D" and "Analyst" modules.

Kasparov(Saitek) "Prisma" prototype (1990) (medium size, LCD chessboard)
(also sold as Radio Shack Chess Champion 2150L)

Kasparov(Saitek) GK 2000 (1992)

Kasparov(Saitek) Travel Companion (1994)

Kasparov(Saitek) Travel Champion 2100 (1994) (iPad-sized)

Kasparov(Saitek) Talking Coach (1996)

Kasparov(Saitek) Advanced Talking Chess (1996)

Kasparov(Saitek) Chess Academy (1998) (with voice and 100 tutorials)
(also sold as Mephisto schachakademie)

Saitek Pro Bridge 610 (2001) (not chess, but...)

I have empty boxes for the following:
Mephisto shachakademie
Kasparov(Saitek) System Trainer
Kasparov(Saitek) Alchemist

We also did a PC game: "Kasparaov's Gambit" for Electronic Arts (1993). This actually had someone's else's chess engine, but we ported the graphics and various features.


Regards,
Craig
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CraigNBarnes
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, ...The Mephisto shachakademie (also sold as Kasparov(Saitek) Chess Academy) had Franz Morsch's 16k or 32k chess engine, which Saitek bought the assembler source code for. I then took the code (which was commented very lightly and in Dutch) and modified the I/O and other features. We then added an extra ROM (2mb?) which contained 100 tutorials, each roughly equivalent to a long magazine article, ranging from basic how-the-pieces-move to analysis of openings and master games. The tutorials were spoken and included quizzes and other interactive features. The lessons were written by a French chess journalist and then translated into German and English; I'm not sure a French product was ever released. Combine that with engineers in Hong Kong and marketing in the US and Europe, and we had a truly international product!

Speaking of internalization, some of our other games (with smaller vocabulary) spoke in multiple different languages: English, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish, I believe.

In another product, we had an 8mb ROM which contained a database of all the master chess games ever played. We used this as a "book" -- we'd play the move from the game if that side eventually won, and try something else if the player ultimately lost.

But generally most products ranged from 2 to 16 or 32k ROM , 128 nibbles to 4k RAM, and speed from 100khz up to about 10 or 20Mhz.

Needless to say, I got pretty resourceful at fitting complex code into small environments...

Regards,
Craig
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ricard60
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Full Name: Ricardo Rodulfo
Location: Puerto Ordaz

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Craig,
Do you still develope chess programs for dedicted chess computers?. From that days to now the dedicated chess computers have been reducing in numbers of models and brands. There are still some old ones that are standing up like novag and saitek and there are some other news. Do you think that the companies that are in the market right now will come up with new models?. Or they will keep selling the same models?

dedicted chess machines for ever regards
Ricardo
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CraigNBarnes
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My last computer chess project was in 2001, and I haven't been following computer chess developments since then. I would expect that by now, since just about everyone has a powerful PC or iPhone or some other device which might run chess software, that any new dedicated machine would quickly become out-of-date technologically. Plus there's so much more one can do with a PC -- saving and printing games, networking, etc.

Of course, since few humans play chess seriously, even the old chess machines could beat most humans at the lowest normal levels (we often implemented "handicap" levels to give novice humans a chance). So machines are still probably "good enough" opponents for all but the most serious players.

Any other viewpoints?
Craig
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Steve B
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CraigNBarnes wrote:

I seem to have the following units (some with boxes) (note: some might actually be prototypes rather than actual products):

Kasparov(Saitek) "Prisma" prototype (1990) (medium size, LCD chessboard)
(also sold as Radio Shack Chess Champion 2150L)

Regards,
Craig



Hi Craig
thanks for that listing
nice to see that a top programmer of the old computers actually kept something for himself ..and a healthy collection indeed!
it seems so many of the programors of the old dedicated computers usually have kept nothing or perhaps one/two computers today
i recall having a brief conversation with Ron Nelson of Fidelity fame and he said he only kept the CC1 and a few others he couldnt recall
De Koinig of Tasc fame told me once he had no dedicated computers because he didnt want to feel like a museum keeper
Razz
The Spracklens have one beat up Prestige Challenger(or something like that)

anyway...as to the Prisma prototype
the same program was incorporated into the Saitek Blitz housing as i am sure you know
now that is a very unusual computer
the only dedicated unit to use dials instead of buttons and the auto-sensory board works by electromagnetic induction
very high defect rates
do you remember that computer(housing)?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/10261668@N05/858206033/in/set-72157600922172552/

Also..
Mike Watters a World Class Collector from the UK has a very informative web page discussing the History of Scisys
in case you haven't seen it:
http://www.chesscomputeruk.com/html/scisys_and_novag___the_early_y.html


Finally..
if you want an idea of value today for the computers in your collection you can see what prior sales brought in on Ebay here:

http://www.elpeon.com/index.php?mod=saitek

Long post to follow regards
Steve
Razz
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CraigNBarnes
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

Thanks for all the info and links, and I have to say I'm boggled that there's still so much interest in dedicated computer chess games!

Yep, I remember the Blitz dials, although I didn't recall that it had that auto-sensor technology. By the way, at one time we worked on a technology using coils in each piecetype so we could always tell exactly what piece was where -- you could set up positions/newgames just by placing the pieces. Unfortunately I think there was problems with radio interference.

I hesitate to call what I have a "collection" -- more of an "accumulation"... Smile

Until later,
Craig
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ricard60
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Craig,

Craig wrote;
I would expect that by now, since just about everyone has a powerful PC or iPhone or some other device which might run chess software, that any new dedicated machine would quickly become out-of-date technologically. Plus there's so much more one can do with a PC -- saving and printing games, networking, etc.

I agree with you about running a chess software on a powerful PC but for me it will never be the same playing a game of chess watching a monitor for two or three hours than watching a real board with real pieces, it gives a feeling of a real tournament playing.

Craig wrote;
Of course, since few humans play chess seriously, even the old chess machines could beat most humans at the lowest normal levels (we often implemented "handicap" levels to give novice humans a chance). So machines are still probably "good enough" opponents for all but the most serious players.

not only old chess machines but new ones to can beat most of humans at their lowest levels, so why not keep devoloping dedicated chess machines? They have a real chess board.

regards
Ricardo
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Chessmaster Ireland
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm just wondering with Craig saying that Saitek bought code from Franz Morsch's around 2001, maybe Saitek's software is like Novag's which is ten years old?
Novag let me log onto their server to upgrade my Citrine software. One thing that I noticed was that the software was called WChess (version I can't remember) but it was one of Novag's Chineese software engineers who I spoke to when I had trouble installing it from the server who wrote the upgraded software to get rid of the opening book bugs.
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