Project Chess - PC

Posted on viernes, diciembre 21, 2012 by Pedro Wave

Project Chess - PC - Personal Computer

Project Chess is the code name of the project to design the first IBM Personal Computer. The same acronym is used to refer to Personal Computer and the  Project Chess.

The first IBM PC model 5150 was released on August 12, 1981 and was the beginning of the greatest chess match in computer history, in which the goal was to win the battle for the computers to become a ubiquitous and pervasive technology in our lives and, for more 31 years, they are achieving!

My first PC experience

My first contact with the closest thing to a PC was in 1978 with an HP-97 while I was studying at the University. Until 1987 I was surrounded by calculators and computers from the first generation of personal computers and  from my first programs written in assembler, Basic, Fortran or Pascal and I liked computing so much that I have not stopped programming.

In those years I devoured all programs and magazines that fell into my hands. The one I liked by far was BYTE, which included all the innovations in both hardware and software in the early days of PCs

In November 1982 BYTE organized a game contest and my favorite was JETSET - Jet Simulator Electronic Trainer, to fly a plane from takeoff to landing on a computer TRS-80 Model II.

Three years after the appearance of the PC, in 1984 I bought my first personal computer, and still have, but it was shared with my brother. It was a whole Personal Computer - PC but without diskettes.

It was a Sharp MZ-700 that did not even have a monitor so, to connect to the only TV in our house, it had an embedded RF modulator.  To program it included a cassette tape recorder at 1200 bits/second and to editing programs it had a robust keyboard that still works.

The following scheme comes from this MZ-700 page:

Sharp MZ-700
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
MZ-700 series system configuration

The screen was divided into 25 rows x 40 characters in a 8x8 dot matrix and 8 color graphics. There was no language in its ROM 2 KB, used for booting sequence  and operating system (OS) calls. On the A side of a cassette came a BASIC programming language, with which I could develop applications and games on its 64 KB of memory.

Software of the first PCs compatible

In its programming manual said it was a "clean computer" (nothing to do with freedom from virus that had not yet been invented for the first PCs), with his memory completely blank when turned on, and that to use it you should preload a programming language, with the advantage of being able to teach the language desired, although initially included the BASIC "Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Intruction Code" and said that its structure was the closest to human languages ​​of the time. Most fascinating was that I no longer depended on University or office computers to make my own incursions into computing.

Another program I got was the pioneer of spreadsheets, the VisiCalc for MZ-700 and whose manual said that it was a spreadsheet with a two-dimensional array of 256 columns and a maximum size limited by RAM. It is interesting to read how it was implemented VisiCalc by Bob Frankston

VisiCalc was developed by Personal Software in 1979 for the Apple II and Microsoft developed Multiplan in 1982 to compete with VisiCalc and was installed into the CP/M and MS-DOS, but was followed as sales success by  Lotus 1-2-3 from the January 26, 1983.

Early versions of the Microsoft Flight Simulator were used as the testing software technique, known as benchmark, to test if a PC was fully compatible. If a computer could run smoothly MSFS 1.0 and Lotus 1-2-3 it was 100% IBM PC-compatible and, if it failed, it was not.

A few years after these first PCs a public group of programmers have designed a PC-compatible simulator, the DOSBox in order to run programs and games originally written for MS-DOS operating system from Microsoft in newer computers. The chess game continues!

Project Chess future

Until the advent of computers, programming and play chess with computers was a privilege of a minority with access to expensive computers owned by universities or companies. In 1978, a chess game running on a PC defeated a chess program running on a mainframe that cost 6 million dollars.

The chess program WChess by David Kittinger in 1994 won five of six games against americans grandmasters in the Intel-Harvard Cup "Man vs. Machine". On May 11, 1997 was the day the World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov  lost to an IBM computer, Deep Blue  This computer was able to analyze 200 million positions per second. In November 2006, the program Deep Fritz was able to emulate Deep Blue with a PC that assessed only 8 million positions per second, but I was able to find an average of 17-18 variations in the middle game by sophisticated heuristic algorithms al, much better than brute-force. In 2009 a chess engine, Pocket Fritz 4, running on a mobile phone reached the grandmaster level.

Seven years ago a club called CCRL "Computer Chess Rating Lists" has been created by testers which analyzes over 1,000 games between chess programs and give Elo points with the level of play this programs achieve. Only two active players reach 2800 Elo points and there are 33 programs that reach it, although not approved by FIDE. You can view the list in this page:

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