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Wolfgang von Kempelen: Wikis


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A charcoal self-portrait of Kempelen, with signature.

Johann Wolfgang Ritter von Kempelen de Pázmánd (Hungarian: Kempelen Farkas) (23 January 1734 – 26 March 1804) was a Hungarian[1][2][3][4][5] author and inventor with Irish ancestors.



Kempelen was from Pozsony (Pressburg), Hungary (today Bratislava, Slovakia). He studied law and philosophy in his birthplace, and then in Győr, in Vienna and in later Rome, but mathematics and physics also interested him. He started to work as a clerk in Vienna. He was most famous for his construction of The Turk, a chess-playing automaton later revealed to be a hoax. He also created a manually operated speaking machine,[6][7] which was a genuine pioneering step in experimental phonetics.

Kempelen died in Vienna. The Wolfgang von Kempelen Computing Science History Prize was named in his honor.


  • Vajda Pál: Nagy magyar feltalálók. Bp., 1958.; Pap János: Kempelen Farkas.
  • Magyar tudóslexikon. Főszerk. Nagy Ferenc. Bp., 1997.
  • Homer Dudley and T.H. Tarnoczy. The Speaking Machine of Wolfgang von Kempelen. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, March 1950, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp. 151–166. [1]
  • Robert Löhr, "The Chess Machine" (Penguin Press, 2007) is a novel about Kempelen and his chess-playing hoax. Translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
Reconstruction of "The Turk,"
the chess-playing automaton.


Regarding personal names: Ritter is a title, translated approximately as Knight, not a first or middle name. There is no equivalent female form.


External links



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