The Cast

Dr. Yusuf bin Ibrahim

A recent convert to Christianity, Dr. bin Ibrahim fled his native Turkey during the Greek War of Independence and the Russo-Turkish war that followed.

Lydia bin Ibrahim

Widowed at a young age, Lydia bin Ibrahim enjoyed as much autonomy as a woman might expect in the mid-19th century. Her second marriage to Dr. bin Ibrahim brought her the chance to start the family she always wanted.

Wolfgang von Kempelen

A minor Hungarian noble whose myriad talents quickly made him a favorite of Empress Maria Theresia, von Kempelen's attempt to outdo a French conjurer led him to create the world's first chess-playing automaton.

Janos Anthon

Wolfgang von Kempelen's trusted manservant Anthon not only handled the daily affairs of his master's household in Pressburg, but also traveled with the von Kempelen family across Europe, serving as assistant during the automaton's performances.

The Automaton

Created in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen, the world's first chess-playing automaton became an instant sensation across Europe and the Americas. Though never referred to as such by its creator or subsequent owners, it was often known colloquially as "The Turk".

Anna Maria von Kempelen

A former lady-in-waiting to a Hungarian noblewoman and now a frequent single mother due to Wolfgang's long business absences, Anna Maria von Kempelen became the family's de-facto administrator, balancing their often-chaotic finances and overseeing their staff while raising their two children.

Theresia von Kempelen

Bookworm, chess enthusiast and heir to her father's love of invention and machinery.

Karl von Kempelen

Armed with his father's political skills (though not his mechanical inclinations) Karl would one day become a konzipist — a minor administrator — within the Austrian Empire.

Jozsef von Bittó

An amateur phonetician, Joszef first fell in love with von Kempelen's work, and then with his daughter.

Dr. John Kearsley Mitchell

Always curious about any interesting topic, prominent physician and author Dr. Mitchell became fascinated with the automaton as a young man.

Johann Nepomuk Maelzel

As the son of a Bavarian organ builder, Maelzel grew up in a household filled with mechanical music. A natural showman as well as an engineer, his mechanical exhibitions literally set the stage for public entertainment for decades to come.

Jean-Marc Benoît

Hired during one of Maelzel's early visits to Paris, Jean-Marc became his manservant, assistant and mechanic. Jean-Marc's wife Constance was hired as well, when the time came for Maelzel to return to Vienna.

Constance Benoît

Daughter of a tricoteuse and downstairs to her husband's upstairs, Constance handles all of Maelzel's cooking, washing and cleaning duties, eventually learning to repair and maintain the many automata in the traveling show.

Guillaume Schlumberger

A native of Alsace, Guillaume Schlumberger rose to fame as one of the best chess players at the exclusive Café de la Régence in Paris, where he met Johann Maelzel and gave up his meager living as a chess instructor to become Maelzel's personal secretary and assistant.