5 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Deep Blue

On February 17, 1996, World chess champion Garry Kasparov beat the IBM supercomputer "Deep Blue," winning the six-game match in Philadelphia. Here are 5 surprising facts that you probably didn't know about IBM's supercomputer...


Garry Kasparov Defeated IBM’s Deep Blue The six-game match between Kasparov and Deep Blue began on February 10, 1996, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Although Deep Blue was capable of evaluating 100 million different chess positions per second, the IBM team wasn’t sure how the computer would perform in competition and Kasparov was favored to win. Instead, much to his frustration, the world chess champ lost the first game to Deep Blue. However, Kasparov quickly staged a comeback and won the second game. The third and fourth games ended in a draw, while Kasparov won the fifth game. On February 17, the human chess master triumphed over Deep Blue in the sixth game and took the match, with a final score of 4-2.

The Name Deep Blue Came from IBM’s Nickname The Deep Blue chess program was originally called Chiptest and was created by Thomas Anantharaman and Feng-Hsiung Hsu, who were students at Carnegie Mellon University. They joined the IBM corporation later, and the name was changed to Deep Thought and then to Deep Blue, which was a variation of the nickname for the IBM corporation Big Blue.


Kasparov Had Beaten a Previous Version of the Computer at Chess Deep Thought, the precursor to Deep Blue, was created in 1988 and named after the fictional computer in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Kasparov beat the machine in two games they played together in 1989. This was when developers of the software realized that the program needed more work.

The Chess Champion Wasn’t so Lucky in The Rematch A heavily publicized 6-game rematch between man and machine began on May 3, 1997. The IBM team had been working to upgrade Deep Blue since its 1996 defeat to Kasparov and the improved version of the computer was able to examine 200 million different chess positions per second. Kasparov took the first game while Deep Blue won the second. The third, fourth and fifth games ended in a draw. On May 11, Deep Blue won the sixth as well as the match, 3.5 to 2.5. A disgruntled Kasparov suggested Deep Blue had been aided by some sort of human assistance during the games, charges that IBM denied. Kasparov demanded a rematch, but instead, IBM retired Deep Blue.

The Fredkin Prize Was Finally Awarded After 17 Years The Fredkin Prize was created in 1980 by Edward Fredkin, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who was a pioneer in artificial intelligence. The prize was to be awarded to whoever could create a computer capable of beating the top chess player in the world. When Deep Blue accomplished this in 1997, the big prize was awarded to the IBM team that upgraded the machine that defeated Kasparov.