IBM and Deep Blue

Deep Blue, a chess-playing computer, defeated chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997. Which major tech company developed Deep Blue?
And the answer: IBM.    
Photo credit: Adam Nadel/AP Image

IBM's computer scientists programmed Deep Blue to explore up to 200 million possible chess positions per second. In 1996, Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in one of six games, marking the first time a computer defeated a world champion under tournament conditions. The following year, it won its first match against a reigning world champion when it defeated Kasparov 3.5-2.5 with two wins and 3 draws. Kasparov forfeited their last game.

Initially called ChipTest, the Deep Blue project was created by Feng-hsiung Hsu in 1985. While a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University, Feng-hsiung Hsu began development of a chess-playing supercomputer that could test the limits of human capability. The machine won the North American Computer Chess Championship in 1987, and Hsu and his team followed up with a successor, Deep Thought, in 1988. After receiving his doctorate in 1989, Hsu and Murray Campbell joined IBM Research to continue their project to build a machine that could defeat a world chess champion

In 1989, Hsu and other colleagues joined the IBM team to fully develop Deep Blue. An early version of Deep Blue played a match against GM Joel Benjamin, who joined the Deep Blue team as a GM consultant afterward. However, this earlier version, also known as Deep Thought, lost to Garry Kasparov in 1989. This meant that Deep Blue needed significant upgrades.  

Finally, in February 1996, Deep Blue became the first machine to win a chess game against a reigning world champion under regular time controls. However, Kasparov won three and drew two of the following five games, beating Deep Blue by 4–2 at the close of the match. Deep Blue's hardware was again upgraded, and by the time of their 1997 match, Deep Blue was unbeatable.

Learn more about the history and significance of Deep Blue here.

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