Dedicated Chess Computers

Rare Dedicated Chess Computers

Mephisto (H&G) Tournament Machine (TM) Vancouver (36Mhz)
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:


The wooden housing board is based on the ESB Board.

A special power connector (Motorcycle Power Connector BMW) is linking the computer to a 5015 HG adapter.
On the side of the computer, there is a push button on/off.
Two fans and a metallic plaque under the printed circuit ensure an adequate cooling system (see photos below).

This computer is working perfectly and in excellent esthetic shape.

The program was written by Richard Lang.
The processor is a Motorola, 32 bits, 36 MHz.
Eight screws hold the plateau in place on the frame.
They are easily unscrewed giving an immediate access to all the components of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and to the electrical power circuit.

The drawer hosts the main PCB with 4 MB of RAM.

"World Machines" (WM), "Tournament Machines" (TM) and "Series Modules" (SM)

The WM devices were made especially to compete for the WMCC. They are the original machines winning the World Championships.
For this reason, they were called WM rather than Tournament Machines (TM).

The TM were  mounted inside of an ESB Board and the PCB was hidden behind a black elegant plaque with windows for the display and the keyboard.
The TM were less powerful than the WM: their microprocessor had a speed of 36 MHz; the amount of memory was 4 MB of RAM (8 MB in the WM version).

The 32-bit "Series Modules" (Motorola 68020, 12 MHz, 1 MB of RAM) were significantly diffrent from  WM and TM Computers: they were slower than the TM (36 MHz) and the WM (between 50 and 66 MHz).

The prices varied considerably between these different versions: a TM (Portorose - Vancouver, 68030 with 36 MHz) was sold around 7500 Euros and a WM around 12500 Euros.

The TM were produced in small quantity: between 25 and 50 devices.
The WM were sold after the competitions, but very few units were ever produced: 6 to 7 devices according to Wikipedia.
However, this number is certainly inexact and likely much lower: the engineers were often reusing the same WM for more than one competition. This was avoiding them to spend too much time on endless tests to verify the stability of a new computer.