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Faster Than Thought: The Ferranti Nimrod Digital Computer.
Hollinwood, Lancashire, 1951 - 12mo (180 x 105 mm), pp 40; a fine copy in original printed olive green wrappers, stapled as issued. First edition of the first book dedicated to a computer game, although the real purpose was to advertise the power of Ferranti's computer. Ferranti's NIMROD was the first computer purpose-built to play a game - the ancient mathematical logic challenge NIM, which involves complex game theory. It was built for the 1951 Festival of Britain and unveiled there, a colossal 12 bx 9 x 5 foot machine. The public were encouraged to play, and one famous visitor's experience is recounted in the following anecdote by Alan Turing's biographer Andrew Hodges: 'Alan spent August 1951 at Cambridge as usual, and from there a party went down on the train to London for the Festival of Britain. They went to the Science Museum in South Kensington where the science and technology exhibits were housed. They came across the NIMROD, which Ferranti were exhibiting. The Ferranti people were pleased to see Alan and said, "Oh Dr Turing, would you like to play the machine?" which of course he did, and knowing the rule himself, he managed to win. The machine dutifully flashed up MACHINE LOSES in lights, but then went into a distinctly Turingesque sulk, refusing to come to a stop and flashing MACHINE WINS instead. Alan was delighted at having elicited such human behaviour from a machine.' Turing was an obvious candidate for the game, having just published in Mind his landmark paper 'Computing Machinery and Intelligence' which famously defines artificial intelligence and sets forth the Turing Test.The present booklet contains a detailed description of the game and the working of the computer, as well as a survey of work on machine intelligence at the time. The text notes that 'the theory of games is extremely complex and a machine that can play a complex game can also be programmed to carry out very complex practical problems . very similar to those required to examine the economies of a country in which neither a state of monopoly nor of free trade exists' (p 19).Provenance: with an original Festival of Britain bookmark loosely laid in (advertising the London book dealer Richard York, whence presumably this copy)not in Hook and Norman; WorldCat locates copies at the NYPL and the British Library only; there is also one further copy in the United Kingdom (University of Cambridge Computing Laboratory) [Attributes: Soft Cover]
      [Bookseller: WP Watson Antiquarian Books]
Last Found On: 2017-02-28           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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