Dedicated Chess Computers

Rare Dedicated Chess Computers

Written by MMO
First edited | 01/26/2014 | by MMO
Last edited | 07/12/2016 |
Additional Information:  original photos are from the ChessEval collection © MMO 2014 -  
Other Information:
Shenk, David (2006), The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, Doubleday, ISBN 0-385-51010-1;  
Auguste Lepage, Les cafés artistiques et littéraires de Paris, p. 129-138, 1882. Bref historique et présentation du café au xixe siècle; (the best site on La Regence Cafe);é_de_la_Régence;; Wiki-Elo-List

CLJ L'Empereur


Chess tradition in the Middle Age

Chess tradition in the Nineteenth century

The Cafe Restaurant La Regence was a famous rendez-vous for the Parisian intelligentsia playing chess..

Times - March 1922Cafe La RegenceHoward Staunton and Pierre Charles Fourrier Saint-Amant, December 1843



It seems that few French people were interested by Chess computers at the moment of the rise of Chess computing in the eighties.
However, some entrepreneurs tried to embark in the adventure:
- Frederic Ries manufactured La Regence, a dedicated chess computer named after the famous Restaurant in Paris. Unfortunately, the company went out of business very quickly.
- A former employee of this company, Jean-Jacques Japhet, created his own company CLJ (initials of the first name of his children) and put on the market L'Empereur in reference to Napoleon. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt very shortly after producing few exemplars.

Both computers were running the Z80 assembly program (Cyrus) of the British programmer Richard Lang.
At this time Richard Lang was working for the company Intelligent Chess Software of David Levy and Kevin O’Connell.


L'Empereur is a beautiful auto-response board in wood.
The French tradition of "marquetterie" is used to give a sense of elegance to the design of the computer.
On the top right side of the computer is the CLJ Logo. On the left bottom side the name "L'Empereur".
The computer uses 64 LEDs to indicate its moves.
Sixteen buttons aligned on the right side wait for the commands of the player.


Characteristics of L'Empereur
- original CLJ L'Empereur with original chessmen
- 1984
- Cyrus program by Richard Lang
- Z80 AT 4 MHz
- 64 LEDs, 16 push buttons
- take back 40 moves
- 16 KB ROM; 2 KB RAM
- 3000 half moves library
- 12 levels
- Adapter: AC/DC 220 V
- Participation at the WMCC Glasgow (1984))

L'Empereur at the WMCC, Glasgow, 1984

World Micro Chess Computer Championship, Glasgow, September 1984
Sargon 3 on Macintosh versus L'Empereur 0-1

1. b3 e5 2. Bb2 Nc6 3. e3 d5 4. Bb5 e4
5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bxc6+ bxc6 7. d3 Bg4 8. f3 exf3
9. Nxf3 Bd6 10. O-O O-O 11. Qd2 Qe7 12. Rae1 Bxf3
13. Rxf3 Qe5 14. Rh3 Qg5 15. Rf1 Rfe8 16. Ne2 Be5
17. Bxe5 Qxe5 18. c4 dxc4 19. bxc4 Rab8 20. Nd4 Rb6
21. Rg3 c5 22. Nf5 g6 23. Qd1 Rf8 24. d4 cxd4
25. Nxd4 c5 26. Nb3 Ra6 27. Qc2 Ne4 28. Rgf3 Ng5
29. Rg3 Rd8 0-1