the shame of horse_ebooks (or, the mechanical turk)
the turk, also known as the mechanical turk or automaton chess player, was a fake chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century. from 1770 until its destruction by fire in 1854, it was exhibited by various owners as an automaton, though it was exposed in the early 1820s as an elaborate hoax. constructed and unveiled in 1770 by wolfgang von kempelen (1734–1804) to impress the empress maria theresa of austria, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent, as well as perform the knight's tour, a puzzle that requires the player to move a knight to occupy every square of a chessboard exactly once. the turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine. with a skilled operator, the turk won most of the games played during its demonstrations around europe and the americas for nearly 84 years, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as napoleon bonaparte and benjamin franklin. the operator within the mechanism during kempelen's original tour remains a mystery. @horse_ebooks was a widely followed twitter account and internet phenomenon. the account was apparently intended to promote e-books, but became known for its amusing non sequiturs in what seemed to be an effort to evade spam detection. on september 24, 2013, it was revealed that horse_ebooks had been sold in 2011 in order to promote an alternate reality game developed for viral marketing towards a larger art project and the release of bear stearns bravo, a series of interactive videos about the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis. the twitter account has not been updated since.