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AI through the ages

A look back over the years at the major stages of artificial intelligence design.


In this 1954 photo provided by IBM, the company's “Electronic Brain,” the 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine is shown.


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The concept of artificial intelligence is as old as the ancient Greeks and as new as the robotic rover currently probing the pinkish terrain of Mars, 352 million miles from Earth. In between have come "reasoning calculators," "analytical engines," and Leonardo da Vinci's walking lion. Modern AI began with the advent of the computer.

3500 BC

Greek myths of Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths and artisans, include the notion of intelligent robots.

400 BC

Greek philosopher and mathematician Archytas builds a wooden pigeon whose movements are controlled by steam.

13th century

Spanish mystic and theologian Ramon Llull invents a mechanical device that tries to prove the veracity of ideas.

16th century

Clock makers use their skills to create machine-like animals. German Hans Bullmann crafts the first androids, ­mechanical figures that simulate people by playing musical instruments.

17th century

French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal invents a mechanical calculating machine. Thomas Hobbes, in his book "Leviathan," suggests that man will create a new intelligence.

18th century

Mechanical toys proliferate, epitomized by this automaton doll and French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson's automated duck, which could flap its wings.

19th century

French weaver Joseph Marie Jacquard, using punch cards, creates a programmable loom. Charles Babbage, an English mathematician and engineer, builds an "analytical engine," a programmable calculating machine.


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