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KEMPELEN, Wolfgang von

* 23. 1. 1734, Bratislava, Slovakia
† 26. 3. 1804, Vienna, Avstrija

Mechanic, inventor (a chess-playing automaton, speaking machine)

K. attended grammar schools in Bratislava and Rab and studied philosophy and law at Vienna University. He was one of prominent scholars in the Habsburg Monarchy. His professional career began in the Hungarian Royal court chancellery in Bratislava. In the 1760s he was appointed secretary and later councillor of the court chancellery. He was in charge of supervising the manufacturers and agricultural estates; he was responsible for the colonization of Banat and Temesvar and he became director of the salt mines. As settlement commissioner for the Banat he in 1770 submitted a comprehensive report on the agricultural and mining directives in this area. In 1777 he took part in the moving of the University of Trnava to Buda. From 1786 to 1798 he served as a royal councillor of the Hungarian-Transylvanian chancellery.
K’s greatest success was in the field of mechanics and machine construction. His well-known structures are a water raising engine for the park of the Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna and a complicated well apparatus to provide water for the castle in Bratislava. In 1780s he designed the National Theater building in Buda and constructed a typewriter for the blind.
He achieved fame with his chess-playing automaton, manufactured in 1769 and called the Turk. The Turk consisted of a wooden cabinet topped by a carved life-size human figure dressed in a Turkish-style cape. Inside the cabinet a complex mechanics, constructed by K. were hidden. The automaton provoked much surprise.
However, it proved to be a hoax, as K. hid a man inside. The automaton made a tour through many European cities. At the beginning of 1790s the device was bought by a Prussian king Friedrich II. The chess-playing automaton was later located in a museum in Philadelphia (the USA) and was destructed by fire in 1854.
Starting in 1769, K. for more than 22 years worked on a »speaking machine«. Only the third model, designed in 1791, responded to his requests in terms of mechanical imitation of human speech by means of wooden resonance chamber. It was a functional representational model of the human vocal tract.
K's »speaking machine« was located at the Vienna Royal Conservatory of Music until 1906, and later at the newly founded German Museum in Munich.

24. 05. 2011 - Opening of CESA in Košice

On 25th May, 2011 we will open the Central European Science Adventure in Slovak Technical Museum in Košice. The game will be accessible for school groups till 30th June. For more info ...

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20. 04. 2011 - Opening of CESA in Budapest

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Izdelava spletnih strani:  Positiva