[SIGCIS-Members] Raymond Dudley, unsung inventor of parallel processing and digital spreadsheet?

Janet Abbate abbate at vt.edu
Tue Apr 21 08:22:44 PDT 2015

I got an odd letter recently from someone named Raymond Dudley, who claims he invented a chess-playing computer in 1973. Apparently he thought that as a member of the SHOT Editorial Committee, I was in a position to "correct the historical record" by alerting the "scientific establishment" of this "important breakthrough." He has a website at http://www.chessilluminated.com/

The device is an electronic chessboard hooked up to a minicomputer. The "digital spreadsheet" he refers to is the illuminated chessboard and a corresponding program that keeps track of the state of each cell on the board. Supposedly the program is implemented in parallel, though I think the underlying processor is not. The chess pieces are electronically encocded so that when they are placed on the board, the machine recognizes each unique piece. The squares on the board will light up to indicate which moves a given piece can legally make; the pieces themselves light up to warn when they are in danger of being captured.  It's not clear to me from my brief survey of the site whether the machine actually plays against the human player or simply provides the player with useful information to aid them in playing against another person. Dudley got a patent on the machine in 1983.

Anybody heard of this? He seems to have kept a lower profile than some of our other cranks--er, unsung inventors. A google search for "Raymond Dudley chess computer" only turned up his patent information.


Dr. Janet Abbate
Associate Professor, Science & Technology in Society
Co-director, National Capital Region STS program
Virginia Tech

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