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HiTech chess machine [1]

a chess entity (special purpose hardware + software) by Hans Berliner and a crew of assorted experts at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh - Carl Ebeling, Murray Campbell, Gordon Goetsch, Andrew James Palay and later Andy Gruss, Larry Slomer and Chris McConnell. Move generation and pattern recognition for evaluation purposes was done in hardware - With 64 chips in parallel. Search algorithm was either alpha-beta as well as B* (ACM 1993).


5-2a.Carnegie Mellon University.Berliner-Hans Ebeling-Carl.198X.L062302001.CMU.lg.jpg

Hans Berliner and Carl Ebeling, developers of HiTech at Carnegie Mellon University [2]


Hans Berliner on the HiTech team [3] :

  • Carl Ebeling (now at University of Washington) built the special purpose hardware (Ebeling 1985), and a good deal of software relating to how to interface to the hardware and see what it is doing for debugging purposes.
  • Larry Slomer (now at PPG Industries) helped to build the hardware and maintained it after Carl graduated.
  • Gordon Goetsch wrote most of the system software that makes possible interfacing with the special purpose hardware, and has recently revised the software that supervises the search to make other searching disciplines possible. Gordon also maintains Hitech's statistics.
  • Murray Campbell has helped with the opening book, and has now implemented the Singular Search (Anantharaman 1988 [4] ) algorithm on Hitech. He has been my alter-ego when it comes to discussion of chess ideas, and what can be done to allow Hitech to understand this or that.
  • Andrew James Palay has been involved with early design issues, and recently had implemented the opening book in the form of a file system that allows greater ease of access, and modification.
  • Andy Gruss has now taken over responsibility for the hardware and is designing some new units at the present time.
  • I have been responsible for doing the pattern knowledge (Berliner 1988) and most of the opening book, and acting as moderator for the many fine discussions that we have about how to improve HiTech in the various areas that need work.



  • In 1985 HiTech achieved a performance rating of 2530. It was the first computer to have a rating over 2400.
In 1985 HiTech won the ACM computer championship in Denver [6] .
In 1986 (June 17&18) HiTech beat the women grandmaster Jana Miles (2265), score: 2-0
In 1986 (July 6), draw with black against GM Michael Rohde in the Philadelphia World Open
In 1987 HiTech won a match against IM Laszlo Perecz (2355) 1.5-0.5
  • In 1988 HiTech won the Pennsylvania State Chess Championship after defeating IM Ed Formanek (2485)
HiTech defeated Grandmaster Arnold Denker (74 years old) in a match (3.5-0.5)
HiTech became the first chess computer to rated Grandmaster strength
In 1988 (June 23) HiTech drew a 2 games match against Manuel Apicella (2370) in Royan ; both won with white pieces [8]



given by Hans Berliner in Some Innovations Introduced by Hitech [9] :

HiTech is a chess machine consisting of:
A general purpose host computer (SUN 3) which provides a user interface, does search control, and has all the chess knowledge in the form of an Oracle, and
A Searcher made up from specially designed and built hardware (about 5 boards) to do fast searching and evaluation. HiTech can search about 175,000 positions/second and executes a full-width depth-first alpha-beta search using a Trans/Ref table (Slate and Atkin, 1977). [10] 


given in 1995 from the ICGA tournament site [11] :

HiTech is a chess machine with special purpose hardware that is capable of evaluating 120,000 positions per second. The hardware is controlled by a SUN 4 workstation running either a brute force or selective search engine. Originally built in 1985 at Carnegie Mellon University, HiTech has since won several computer-computer and human-computer tournaments. Its primary purpose is supporting research into new search techniques. Active research includes a new selective search algorithm and techniques for automatically constructing better evaluation functions. 

See also


Forum Posts

1990 ...

2000 ...

2010 ...

External Links

Chess Entity



  1. HiTech Photo, a Gift of Feng-hsiung Hsu from History of Computer Chess from The Computer History Museum
  2. Photo ca 1985, © Bill Redick, History of Computer Chess from The Computer History Museum
  3. Hans Berliner (1988). Pennsyvania State Chess Championship - HiTech Becomes First Computer Senior Master. AI Magazine Volume 9 Number 3 (© AAAI), pdf
  4. Thomas Anantharaman, Murray Campbell, Feng-hsiung Hsu (1988). Singular extensions: Adding Selectivity to Brute-Force Searching. AAAI Spring Symposium, Computer Game Playing, pp. 8-13. Also published in ICCA Journal, Vol. 11, No. 4, republished (1990) in Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 99-109. ISSN 0004-3702
  5. Jean Paul Teyssier (1991). ECHECS A L'INFORMATIQUE. pdf (French)
  6. Carolyn Kelly (1986). Chess Playing Computer Wins Championship. The Tartan, pdf from The Computer History Museum
  7. Hitech - Lautier by Hans Berliner, rgc, April 19, 1990
  8. For collector : Hitech-Apicella games (1988) by Vincent Lejeune, CCC, January 22, 2000
  9. Hans Berliner (1987). Some Innovations Introduced by Hitech. ICCA Journal, Vol. 10, No. 3
  10. David Slate and Larry Atkin (1977). CHESS 4.5 - The Northwestern University Chess Program. Chess Skill in Man and Machine, reprinted (1988) in Computer Chess Compendium
  11. HiTech's ICGA Tournaments
  12. Hitech-Lautier Cannes 1987 (CC-History) by Vincent Lejeune, CCC, June 10, 2015

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