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Kempelen, Farkas

Farkas Kempelen (1734-1804) was the Inventor of the first automaton, The Chess Playing Turk, in 1769.  He built it for the sole purpose of entertaining and mystifying the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.  It was not a true machine but was the first “cabinet illusion.”  For years he labored to improve the science of hydraulics, designing fire engines and hydraulic pumps.  But nobody was interested in those.  They were all interested in the Turk.  Eventually, he became so annoyed by the continuous stream of visitors that he dismantled the Turk, announcing that it had been damaged and could no longer be exhibited.  In 1783 Emperor Joseph II commanded him to display the Turk once again.  In 1790 he built the world’s first “talking machine” (he called it a voice imitator).

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