Until 1980, users of chess computers had to move the computer’s pieces by hand. The introduction of the Boris Handroid, an extremely rare unit with a robotic arm, changed that. More notable was the 1982 Novag Robot Adversary (left), which used a robotic arm to pick up and move the computer’s pieces automatically. Only 2500 units were produced, however, with high failure rates limiting sales.
A more successful robotic design was the Milton Bradley Grandmaster (1983, right), which used an electromagnet on a movable arm under the chess board to move the computer’s pieces.
(Photos: Novag, Computer History Museum)