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  Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
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   Author  Topic: Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich  (Read 837 times)
Mike Watters
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« on: March 18, 2005, 08:25AM »
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Thanks for that Ismenio. I am wiser than I was before and I now dislike the Brehn Corporation whoever they are.

Daniel

My memory was also playing tricks on me. What I have in fact got is a Leonardo Maestro module in an Analyst box. It is so long since I put it away that the box had convinced me it was an Analyst module. Shame about that. I liked the idea of having a stronger one with a display.

Anyway on your advice I tried it again and it worked with power from the adaptor, and not the batteries, so many thanks for that.

Whether it is any stronger than the basic program I do not know. I sense there is possibly no improvement.

Mike
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Ismenio
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2005, 08:02AM »
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Regarding that patent issue, here's what was posted on the newsgroup about chess computers in the 90's:


SmartBoard patent infringement lawsuit?
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Stuart Cracraft       Jun 5 1996, 12:00 am    show options
Newsgroups: rec.games.chess.computer
From: cracr...@ix.netcom.com (Stuart Cracraft) - Find messages by this author
Date: 1996/06/05
Subject: SmartBoard patent infringement lawsuit?
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I heard that there is a patent infringement lawsuit now
going on regarding the SmartBoard -- the separate wooden(like)
chessboard that attaches to a PC's parallel interface and permits
PC chess programs to play out on a 3D physical board.

Is SmartBoard sales in the U.S. held up? Is there a danger
of distributing or buying it?

--Stuart

   
Steven Schwartz       Jun 5 1996, 12:00 am    show options
Newsgroups: rec.games.chess.computer
From: LGTY...@prodigy.com (Steven Schwartz) - Find messages by this author
Date: 1996/06/05
Subject: Re: SmartBoard patent infringement lawsuit?
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cracr...@ix.netcom.com (Stuart Cracraft) wrote:
>I heard that there is a patent infringement lawsuit now
>going on regarding the SmartBoard -- the separate wooden(like)
>chessboard that attaches to a PC's parallel interface and permits
>PC chess programs to play out on a 3D physical board.
>Is SmartBoard sales in the U.S. held up? Is there a danger
>of distributing or buying it?
>--Stuart

Hi, Stuart.

You heard correctly. Brehn Corporation in New Jersey
has a patent (#5,129,654) for piece recognition which was
awarded in 1992. The president of Brehn showed the technology
to the president of TASC after signing a non-disclosure
agreement, and not long after that, the TASC Smartboard was
manufactured. Since the Smartboard incorporates piece
recognition, and since Brehn Corporation felt that this
particular piece recognition was as described in its patent,
a suit was filed in federal court in New Jersey by Brehn.

TASC denies and has denied any infringement and says that the
technology for piece recognition in its boards is different
from the patent that was filed by Brehn Corporation and that
the Brehn technology is "not workable." TASC also indicated that
it was working on piece recognition as early as 1989.

Brehn Corporation decided to file suit in New Jersey and named
TASC, ICD, and the U.S. Chess Federation as defendants. Since the
law states that the manufacturer and those who sell infringing
product are liable (whether they are aware of infringement or not),
and since ICD and the Chess Federation were the easiest method of
getting at TASC (in The Netherlands), with the apologies of Brehn,
we were dragged into the argument.

Brehn stated from the beginning that ICD and the Federation were really
not guilty of anything but being in the middle of what essentially
was a dispute between TASC and Brehn. But as luck (and our justice
system) would have it, we and the Chess Federation were forced to
pay our lawyers to defend us. Brehn felt that pressure from ICD and
the Chess Federation on TASC would bring TASC to the bargaining table
here in the U.S., and save Brehn the expense of going after TASC
in Europe.

ICD could have simply not responded to the suit and saved lawyer's
fees, and allowed a judgment to be placed against it by the court,
but that is an open ended situation because only one side of the
story is told with no opportunity to defend oneself. So, having
been placed between a rock (Brehn) and a hard place (TASC), we
chose to have our lawyers defend.

We (ICD) chose first to fight jurisdiction and won. As a result,
the case was moved from New Jersey to the Southern District Federal
Court in Manhattan. The judge in the Southern District assigned a
mediator to listen to all sides in the dispute, and this meeting took
place this past Friday.

The mediator was excellent but unable to bring Brehn and TASC
together. Each side insisting that it was right. Then the issue
was directed at ICD and the U.S. Chess Federation. Since it was
agreed that we were just "pawns" in a larger struggle and could
not possibly know who was right and who was wrong... for the past
1 1/2 years since the suit was filed, I had dozens of conversations
with both the president of Brehn and the president of TASC and
each insisted on every occasion that the other party was incorrect..
we were given the option of continuing to pay our attorneys
many thousands of dollars to defend ourselves, or just simply
settling the case and getting out.

ICD and U.S. Chess offered to pay Brehn a fee to release us from
the case, and we agreed not to sell the Smartboard after July 1st.
The fee, ironically enough, was less than 25% of what our attorneys
had charged us up to that point!

To this day, I have not the slightest notion of whether an
infringement has taken place. Having been in the chess computer
business for almost 19 years now, I know that we sold a unit
with piece recognition back in the mid 80s called the Mephisto
Bavaria and nobody sued us. I know that Saitek holds a patent on
piece recognition and they did not sue us, and I know that Ken
Thompson developed a piece recognition system back in the late
70s-early 80s and he did not sue us, but  I have no clue as
to whether the TASC Smartboard infringes upon Brehn's July 14,
1992 patent!

The Brehn vs. TASC patent infringement case continues (but
now, thank goodness, without ICD) and none of TASC's other
products are affected in any way, and customers who own
Smartboards will be supported as always, but after July
1st there will be no more Smartboards sold by ICD.

Regards, Steve (ICD/Your Move Chess & Games)


Here you can read the whole thread:
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.games.chess.computer/browse_frm/thread/ae03bd4d4216d2fc/
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_hard
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2005, 01:35AM »
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In 1996 every electronic equipment sold in Europe ( or Germany only ?) needed a CE cerificate. I have read, that the old RISC2500/Montreux design had not. So a complete redesign would have taken (much) money. But the market for the high priced chess computers was gone. This are the reasons, why the Montreux production was sold out in 1996. Saitek had the cheap and CE profed Morsch computers (Centurion, ...) in it's portfolio.

Sorry, but I know nothing about a patent issue with Saitek and Mephisto, only the dispute about TASC. BTW, piece recognition boards are still today produced by DGT http://www.dgtprojects.com/eboard.htm .

Viele Gre,
Bernhard
« Last Edit: March 18, 2005, 01:35AM by _hard » Report to moderator Logged
Daniel
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2005, 12:26AM »
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Thanks for clearing that Bernhard, it's been many years since I heard the story . My memory obviously failed me on the correct order of events . Bernhard, do you know for how long the Montreux was on the market ? Was it only a few months ?


And Mike, no I'm not looking to sell any Risc or Montreux. 

Sorry for the confusion about the story, just turn the order around.

Lastly, Bernhard , can you throw any light on Ismenios question ?

Daniel
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Alain Zanchetta
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2005, 12:26AM »
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with this thread, now I understand better why Risc 2500 is so valuated by collectors...
I'll have to get one one of these days...
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2005, 12:08AM »
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Daniel,
Quote from: Daniel on March 17, 2005, 12:14PM   

The Risc2500 was originaly born as the Mephisto Montreux. At the time Mephisto had already been bought out by Saitek. The Montreux appeared only briefly on the market. It was felt that the sales of the Montreux would cannibalize those of the highest end Mephistos, while the Kasparov line barely had any machine of comparable strength. And so the Montreux was turned from black to silver , and renamed the Kasparov Risc2500.

it was the complete opposite way! The RISC2500 (Saitek) was first born in 1992 (in silver) and was rereleased in 1995 as Montreux (with Mephisto logo) in black.

Viele Gre,
Bernhard
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Mike Watters
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2005, 02:47PM »
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Quote from: Daniel on March 17, 2005, 01:03PM   

Mike,

When you used the Analyst module, was the board battery powered or mains powered ? Most modules will not function if the board is only running on batteries . The board needs to be running on the power adaptor for any modules to be recognised and to work .

Just in case ...

Daniel
Daniel

Many thanks again for the information. I will certainly try the Leonardo Analyst again. I may well have tried it only on the batteries. I was pretty ignorant about the Renaissance back then. I will certainly let you know how I get on.

Sorry Daniel I cannot be stung into buying a Risc 2500. Though you have made me more curious.

All the best
Mike
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Ismenio
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2005, 02:47PM »
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Thanks again Daniel.

Yes, I was thinking about the piece recognition of the Tasc and Bavaria units. I'll have to try to dig that information, if I can find it. If I remember, and I can be way off base here, the article didn't say that Saitek had a board that could detect each piece automatically but that it had the technology for that. It could be that the author was referring to the hall sensors you mentioned. I was just curious.

I think the system used in the Bavaria and Tasc were very similar.

The patent dispute in the 90's was the cause of Tasc going out of business

Ismenio
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2005, 02:39PM »
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Hi Ismenio,

The Risc2500/Montreux was a plastic table top machine with the usual pressure sensory game surface. The same standard Saitek case as used for the Conquistador, Simultano, Prisma, GK2000/2100 and most recently the Cougar . But the electronics inside were all Tasc .

I'm not aware of any patent issues between the companies regarding this machine, although I doubt it.

If you're refering to the piece recognition technology, as used in the Mephisto Bavaria, and the Tasc Smart Board. Then that is another story altogether . I'm sorry, but I can't help you there at all.

The Leonardo,Galileo and Renaissance do not have this technology for sure . And to my knowledge, no Saitek board ever incorporated that system . The only board that ever needed specialised pieces was the Kasparov Blitz . This used Hall Effect sensors in the board . This system is quite simple in principle, whereby the white and black pieces have magnets of opposing polarity . That is, the white will all have the negative pole pointing down while the black will have the positive side pointing down (or vice versa). The Hall sensors in the board can sense the change in polarity and so will immediately know where a black piece was replaced by a white piece, for example.

In fact, if you were missing a set of pieces for your Blitz, you should be able to construct your own by simply turning magnets the right way round before fitting them into the pieces .

If recall correctly, each piece of a SmartBoard has some sort of electronic device in the bottom, which distinquished it uniquely, I think. So it seems to be a system that is a lot more sophisticated than that using Hall sensors .

I'm sorry I can't be of any more help, Ismenio. Are there some Tasc fans here that can lend a hand ?  Anyone

Daniel
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Ismenio
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2005, 01:14PM »
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I think I read somewhere that when the patent issue came about back in the days of the Tasc, Mephisto and Saitek also had that technology. Mephisto had the Bavaria but how about Saitek? Did they get that technology when they bought Mephisto or did they develop their own?

Ismenio
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2005, 01:03PM »
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Mike,

When you used the Analyst module, was the board battery powered or mains powered ? Most modules will not function if the board is only running on batteries . The board needs to be running on the power adaptor for any modules to be recognised and to work .

Just in case ...

Daniel
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2005, 12:14PM »
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Hello again ,

Thank you Ismenio , I appreciate the compliment very much . But I'm certainly no guru . I've been interested in the top of the range Saitek boards because I liked them so much . For me they are the most beautiful and elegant boards ever made . The fold out, clip off cover and slide out LCD make them so much more sophisticated and impressive than an  Avant Garde , Super Expert or Monarch. So most of what I know relates to them.

Mike, I'm very surprised about that Analyst not working . Are you sure it isn't faulty ? When you say that it isn't detected by the board, do you mean that the Module light does not come on ? Have you checked for extra levels ?

The OSA spec was designed to be backward compatible . ALL modules "should" work in the Renaissance and Galileo .

You were quite right about the module being an improvement on the base program, even in the Renaissance . The base program has remained practically unchanged in strength since the Leonardo.

Remember to never, ever, insert or remove a module while the board is switched on . And always wait about 20 seconds after switching off, before switching on again , or vice versa .

The analyst modules are identical to the maestro modules , except for the extra LCD . Of course the analyst modules were envisioned for Galileo or Leonardo because these boards had no LCD. The only other thing I can think of is perhaps some sort of conflict between the module LCD and the board LCD . But I doubt this very much . Have you tried the analyst module in one of the other boards ? Report back here, as I'd realy like to find out what the problem is .


Anyway, now for some more trivia ...

The strongest ever Saitek Board, after the Sparc module , was the Risc2500. This was an extremely powerful machine. It's performance was impressive and it was very handsome to boot. Unfortunately it was also one of the most expensive. You'll see why in a moment. The Risc2500 was originaly born as the Mephisto Montreux. At the time Mephisto had already been bought out by Saitek. The Montreux appeared only briefly on the market. It was felt that the sales of the Montreux would cannibalize those of the highest end Mephistos, while the Kasparov line barely had any machine of comparable strength. And so the Montreux was turned from black to silver , and renamed the Kasparov Risc2500. But even as the Risc2500, this machine did not last long on the market . It was simply too expensive. Why was it so strong and so expensive?  Because deep inside beat the heart and soul of the most powerful machine of all time !  Saitek had commissioned the design of the Montreux to none other than ..... Tasc of Holland . Makers of the superlative R30 and the limited edition R40. While the outside is the standard Saitek case, all the innards were exclusively designed by Tasc. So essentialy one could call this machine "The baby Tasc ".

This is quite a sad story . Not only because this machine failed (just as its creators did), but mostly because it was never recognised and appreciated for what it was. Nobility dressed in rags .

No serious collection should be without this machine . And it should be placed in the Tasc section, among it's illustrious peers, as a long lost son .

Regards
Daniel
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2005, 08:39PM »
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Wow! Excelllent post Daniel!

You seem to be the Saitek Guru here. Have you see the great material Bernhard posted on Mephisto? (HEGNER & GLASER) I was wondering if you had something similar fo Saitek, as a company. I wanted to create a page for each manufacturer and I could use help with some write up on Saitek. Let me know if you're interested. Of course, I'd give you the credit.

Best,

Ismenio
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Mike Watters
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2005, 01:36PM »
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Daniel

That is very helpful indeed !!

I have 3 Renaissance boards. One has a Sparc. One a Brute Force. The third has just the standard program i.e. no module. I also bought a cheap Leonardo Analyst module which I imagined at the time would be an improvement on the Renaissance program. But the module was not apparently recognised by the Renaissance and made no difference.

The Sparc apparently worked perfectly well in all three boards though supposedly one is factory Sparc compliant, one was upgraded to Sparc compatible by Niggemanns in Germany. The other is probably not Sparc compatible, i.e. there is no external sign of compliance or information to that effect.

I have asked top collectors about this. One said that under no circumstances use the Sparc in a non compliant board as it will damage the board and module. The other dodged the question, preferring just to give information which I already knew.

You are the first person who has thrown any light on this.

Daniel are there any "Leonardo" modules which also work in the Renaissance? On the basis of what you have told us it seems unlikely.

Very many thanks
Mike
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2005, 01:15PM »
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Addendum to my post below :

The Brute Force module I referred to, was the latest version with the brown face plate (10Mhz) . There was apparently an early Brute Force module for the Leonardo available in 4 and 6 Mhz. It had the familiar black Leonardo face plate. I have never seen or known of anyone owning one. Some very old catalogues have pictures of them , but they may just be mock-ups. If they do exist then that's a Brute Force module you CAN use in a Leonardo .

Daniel
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Re:Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2005, 11:28AM »
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Hi Mike,

Now Saitek I DO know about !

Previously the top of the range board by Saitek was the  Leonardo. It was a large full size board but had only 16 board lights and no LCD display . An LCD display could be added by inserting a module with incorporated LCD. The modules with LCD's were called "Analyst". Later Saitek decided to add an even more luxurious board to their range and created the Renaissance. They kept the Leonardo in the range but changed the key layout slightly and renamed it "Galileo".The Renaissance is the same size as the Leonard but has a very elegant slide out full board LCD, and has 81 (!) board lights, one on each corner of each square. So a move is indicated by four lights around the square. All modules work in the Renaissance and in Galileo.The Sparc and Brute Force, which were the last two modules, will probably not work in the Leonardo. All other modules will work in the Leonardo. The Sparc, which was the most powerful module, came with a small EMI PCB that apparently needed to be added into the board . And some later Renaissance came out with a sticker on the bottom that said Sparc ready .  I suspect that the PCB is only some sort of attenuator used to keep the board within country appliance regulations for magnetic interference . I've never heard of a Sparc module not working in a board because the PCB was not added .

I almost forgot , one more difference that was introduced with the Renaissance and also incorporated into the Galileo, was the "Blitz Board" system . Anyone with a Leonardo will tell you that sometimes if you captured in one motion, the board would not understand what piece you captured . Because as you lifted the captured piece you were already moving the capturing piece in its place , and thus the magnetic pull on the reed switch under the piece was never interrupted . The computer would sense the missing capturing piece , but did not sense the removal of the captured piece . So, to avoid this problem, you had to lift the captured piece well off the board before replacing it with the attacking piece . The Blitz Board system eliminated this problem (don't ask me how), and hence the name.

Mike, thanks for your help to my last question (and thanks everyone else !)

"Hope this helps for now." 

Daniel
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Mike Watters
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Great Leonardo bargain if you live near Zurich
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2005, 07:31AM »
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This seller limited their options by insisting that the Saitek Leonardo buyer pick up the chess computer from Winterthur, near Zurich. The price is a complete giveaway.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=8175586586&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT

Which brings me to the question, can anyone tell me what the differences are between the Leonardo board and the Galileo and Renaissance? Also to what extent the various modules can be used in all of the boards?

All the best
Mike
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