Robot Brain "Learning" To Play Chess


CSIRO Problem In Computer Network




The Melbourne Argus, 13 June, 1949    



From our correspondent, London

A mechanical brain, built at Manchester University, is to be taught to play chess.

Once the brain—called "Joe" by the scientists — has mastered the rules, it will think out its own moves.

The leader of the research team which built the brain is Professor F. C. Williams, one of the scientists who perfected radar.

Does sums, too.

He set the brain a calculation which he knew would take three mathematicians, working several hours daily, 25 years to solve.

The brain gave him an answer in three weeks.

Housed in a small laboratory in the university, the brain, with its array of wires, valves, cathode ray tubes, and wheels looks like a refugee from a film of a Jules Verne novel. It has a memory which can store away facts and figures.

Its uses in industry and research are unlimited, and it will speed up atomic research by solving mathematical problems for scientists in seconds.

Another scientist who perfected the brain, A. W. Turing said: "We are going ahead with exploring the degree of intellectual activity of which the brain is capable. In time it should be possible to perfect and adapt it so it will be capable of acting with human instructions, even of decisions itself. I don't draw the line about it writing a sonnet on the sunset".


Editor ; Sir Frederic Calland Williams, born 26 June 1911 Stockport, died 11 August 1977) known as 'F.C. Williams' or (less often) 'Freddie Williams' was an English engineer who attended attended the University of Manchester, and received his doctorate in 1936 after studying at Magdalen College, Oxford. Working at the Telecommunications Research Establishment he was a substantial contributor during World War II to the development of radar.  In 1946 he was appointed as head of the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Manchester. There, with Tom Kilburn, he pioneered the first stored-program digital computer, the Manchester Mark 1 computer

He is also recognised for his invention of the Williams-Kilburn tube, an early memory device.