A man and his machines

For years the Turk, a chess-playing automaton, toured Europe and America, delighting audiences and besting Catherine the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. But the Turk was a trick: Somewhere inside the cabinet was a human, playing the pieces on the board. No one knew how it worked at the time. Then, in 1854, it was destroyed in a fire and the illusion was lost. The Turk reappeared 130 years later, in Atwater, California, re-created from fragments by John Gaughan, a master magic builder who spent $120,000 of his own money on the duplicitous automaton.