The thinking machine – a hardware project from 1993

H8/325 V2.0 Thinking Machine in wood case

In former times i was also doing electronics and i always enjoyed to program my own chess program. In the nineties the microcontroller H8 was beginning to get popular in various chess computers. Well, i always wanted something special – so  i designed my own hardware. I wanted to have something noone else has, it should look nice&cute.

i even let a wooden case be produced. Wood looks alot better as plastic. Therefore i also love my Mephisto Lyon32 chess computer or nowadays these dgt e-boards.

What you can see in the title picture is the final version of my hardware. I called it “thinking machine”. Inside is a H8/325 micro-controller running my own chess program which i developed in H8 assembler.
Entering the moves are done with these 6 buttons. The thinking machine has a graphic display to display the board, and its moves.

Nowadays i don’t do chess programs anymore. But i always miss it, and maybe after some time, i really write another chess program again 🙂 Right now i’m busy with picochess and at most i help the chess developers to find problems in their chess engines.

After sitting infront of my computer for several weeks, i finally had the pcb layout ready and was able to let the pcb be produced. Here is a picture of the pcb:

pcb design from J. Precour for a chess computer

I also had various versions of this pcb (thinking machine) like these:

First version of my chess computer



  1. Very nice,Jürgen.
    What a crazy idea it is.
    I understand it right, you made the layout of the circuit board by yourself?
    Thats impressive.
    And the Computer still works today, after so many years?
    It is required a lot of time, money and manpower.
    But its only a hobby 😉 ,and who knew something about the Trend of Chess-Computers in 1993.
    Can you asses the skill level of this little Treasure?

    Greets Stefan

    • Hi Stefan,
      yes i’m a crazy guy, ha. Yep, the circuit diagram, pcb layout, soldering, software,… all done by me. The pcbs costed me around 500DM, the wooden case is only one in world – and would cost an unbelievable high price. But now i only have the old eproms (see picture), i cant burn them, no H8 ide, so only if i’m lucky, the machine will still run (i should try it out!). I’m out of electronic business now. Its only a nice hobby.

  2. Yes, try it out.
    Perhaps a Foto from the old Display in work?
    And when this unbelievable high priced Machine will work,
    then beat it.

    The main Thing in life is to have some fun. 😉

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