Biographies --Arthur L. Samuel, John Bardeen, Velma E. R. Huskey
Original Publication Date: 1991-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Software Patent Institute
ERIC A. WEISS: AUTHOR [+2]
THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.
Copyright ©; 1991 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.
Biographies -- Arthur L. Samuel, John Bardeen, Velma E. R. Huskey
ERIC A. WEISS, EDITOR
Arthur L. Samuel (1901-1990) died 29 July 1990 at Stanford Hospital from complications related to Parkinson's disease. He was a pioneer of artificial intelligence research (best known for his program that played championship level checkers). Samuel was born in 1901 in Emporia, Kansas. He graduated from the College of Emporia and while working intermittently at General Electric Co. in Schenectady, N.Y. he went on to earn a Master of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1926. He later did graduate work in Physics at Columbia University. In 1946 the College of Emporia awarded him an honorary doctorate.
After earning his master's degree he stayed on at M.I.T. as an instructor in Electrical Engineering until 1928 when he joined Bell Telephone Laboratories. At Bell Labs he primarily worked on electron tubes. Particularly notable was his work on space charge between parallel electrodes and his wartime work on Tit-boxes. Tit-boxes are switches that disconnect a radar receiver when it is transmitting.
In 1946 Samuel became Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois and was active in the University's project to design one of the first electronic computers. It was there he conceived the idea of a checkers program capable of beating the world champion to demonstrate the power of electronic computers.
In 1949 Samuel joined IBM Corporation's Poughkeepsie Laboratory in New York. This move was seen by IBM's competitors as a commitment by IBM to move to vacuum tube based computing. However, as his autobiography describes it, he had to fulfill a dual role there: pushing research on switching transistors and keeping engineers going with the available tube technology. Tubes were used for logic and memory in IBM's first stored program computer, the IBM 701. The memory was based on Williams tubes, which stored bits as charged spots on the screen of a cathode ray tube. Samuel managed to increase the number of bits stored from 512 to 2,048 per tube, and to raise the mean time to failure to 30 minutes.
He completed the first checkers program, apparently the world's first self-learning program, on the IBM 701. Just before it was to be demonstrated, Thomas J. Watson Sr. said the demonstration would raise the price of IBM stock 15 points. It did.
Samuel noted that checkers players have access to many volumes of annotated games with good moves distinguished from bad ones. Samuel's learning program replayed the games presented in Lee's Guide to Checkers. The program adjusted its criteria for choosing moves so it would often choose those thought good by checker experts.
In 1961, when Ed Feigenbaum and Julian Feldman were putting together the fi...