Ajeeb was a chess-playing "automaton", created by Charles Hooper (a cabinet maker), first presented at the Royal Polytechnical Institute in 1868. A particularly intriguing piece of faux mechanical technology (while presented as entirely automated, it in fact concealed a strong human chess player inside), it drew scores of thousands of spectators to its games, the opponents for which included Harry Houdini, Theodore Roosevelt, and O. Henry.
After several spectacular demonstrations at Coney Island, New York, Ajeeb was destroyed in a fire in 1929.
Ajeeb is an Urdu word meaning strange or unexplainable. In Arabic ajeeb means something very unique and beautiful.
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