The Amazing Clockwork Poetry Machine

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What is it about?

This is a story of 19th-century Artificial Intelligence. In 1845, posters announced “The EUREKA, a Machine for Making Latin Verses”, on display at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London. For the price of one shilling visitors could gaze at a cabinet about the size of a large bookcase. A strange-looking man pulled a lever, clockwork within the machine began to whirr, kaleidoscopic lights flashed on the ceiling, and one by one letters appeared in slots at the front of the machine to form a line of Latin verse. Each time the lever was pulled, the machine ground out a different verse. The inventor of Eureka spent 13 years perfecting his creative computer. How did it work? Why did he do it? And what happened next?

Who is hosting it?

Mike is an Emeritus Professor of Educational Technology at The Open University in the UK. He is writing a book on computers and storytelling, with his colleague Rafael Pérez y Pérez. While researching for the book, Mike discovered the fascinating history of the Eureka machine and its inventor, John Clark.

Date

26 June 2020

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