Dubbed the Mechanical Turk, the automaton was dressed in robes and a turban, sitting regally at a wooden cabinet with a chessboard on top. And boy, could the Turk play! It wasn't just good at executing repetitive tasks - it actually responded to the unpredictable behaviour of humans.
If you’re impressed by the sophistication of robotics today, imagine how the public reacted in 1770 to inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen’s latest creation: a chess-playing robot with exceptional skill.
When faced with cheaters like Napoleon in 1809, the Turk swiped across the board and scattered the pieces to the ground like it had a mind of its own - because it did. In fact, the Turk was being operated from the inside by human chess masters. Still, at least it didn’t break anyone’s fingers.