Item #28987 Programming a Computor [sic - Computer ] for Playing Chess [offprint]. Claude E. Shannon, Elwood.
The rare offprint

Programming a Computor [sic - Computer ] for Playing Chess [offprint]

[London]: [Taylor & Francis] March 1950. First Separate Edition. [1], 256-275, [1-blank] pages. 9 15/16 x 6 3/4 inches. Self-wrappers stapled and glued. The five examined offprints [as here] have been oddly but consistently constructed. The first leaf (wrapper title) is tipped onto a gathering formed by pages 257-272 (signed 'U'). Pages 273-276 (276 is blank) are formed by folding a single sheet once and tipping that unsigned gathering to the verso of the ‘U’ gathering. Soft creases to the offprint, still a near fine copy of a fragile item.

The offprint wrapper title introduced a typographical error: "Programming a Computor (sic) for playing chess" - mis-spelling Computer. On the verso (the first page of the paper), the title is correct. Near Fine. Wraps. [28987]

This paper was first presented at the National IRE Convention, March 9, 1949, in New York. “The Philosophical Magazine,” Ser. 7, Vol 41, March 1950 (pp. 256-275) first published this paper. Here offered in the rare offprint form.

Levy, in his "Computer Chess Compendium," states, "This chapter serves as a historical introduction to the remainder of the volume. The very first paper, Shannon's seminal work dating back to 1949 [ Paper 1.1 in Levy's book ], was first presented as a lecture on March 9th of that year to the National Convention of the Institute of Radio Engineers in New York. Shannon pioneered computer chess as we know it today, and his ideas have been employed in almost every chess program ever written..." (introduction)

"The first technical paper on computer chess." (Origins of Cyberspace)

"In their paper on 'Chess-playing programs and the problem of complexity,' Newell, Shaw, and Simon had this to say about Shannon's paper: 'The relevant history [of chess-playing programs] begins with a paper by Claude Shannon in 1949. He did not present a particular chess program but discussed many of the basic problems involved. The framework he introduces has guided most of the subsequent analysis of the problem ... The basic framework introduced by Shannon for thinking about chess problems consists of a series of questions: 1. Alternatives. Which alternative moves are to be considered? 2. Analysis. a. Which continuations are to be explored and to what depth? b. How are positions to be evaluated strategically - in terms of their patterns? c. How are the static evaluations to be integrated into a single value for an alternative? 3. Final choice procedure. What procedure is to be used to select the final preferred move? We would hazard that Shannon's paper is chiefly remembered for the specific answers he proposed to these questions: consider all alternatives; search all continuations to a fixed depth, n; evaluate with a numerical sum; minimax to get the effective value for an alternative; and then pick the best one (Newell and Simon, 1963 p 42-44)" (Origins of Cyberspace quoting Feigenbaum pp 39-70)

PROVENANCE: The personal files of Claude E. Shannon. One of five complete examples in Shannon's files.

Sloane and Wyner, "Claude Elwood Shannon Collected Papers," #54
Hook and Norman, "Origins of Cyberspace," #882
Levy, David: "Computer Chess Compendium," Springer-Verlag: 1988. (Paper 1.1)
Feigenbaum, E. A. and Feldman, J. "Computers and Thought" (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963)


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