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Friday, March 2, 2012

Creator of Belle chess playing machine dies at 76

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012
Hi everyone,

Joseph Henry Condon, an experimental physicist and engineer, died on January 2 at the age of 76. He, in partnership with Ken Thompson, created Belle, a pioneering combination of computer and special hardware that played championship quality chess.
 One of the major collaboration between Joe and Ken Thompson was the creation of the chess-playing machine named Belle. Joe designed custom hardware while Ken designed the software. The hardware evaluated board position, did piece move generation, and used a cache memory for previously evaluated board positions. Belle’s hardware could evaluate millions of board positions and generate all legal chess moves every second. The control software kept track of how many moves ahead the hardware was evaluating and selected the best current move. Belle was very compact and easily portable and was taken to many chess tournaments where it achieved a master rating. Belle won the world computer chess championship in 1980 and the U.S. computer chess championships in 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1986.

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