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ANTIC The Atari 8-bit Podcast


hosts: Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold
email: antic@ataripodcast.com
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Apr 23, 2022

Scott Savage: Lefty, the Checkers Playing Robot

"Lefty" was the name of the world's first checker-playing robot, which was located at the Omniplex science museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The robot arm would play games of checkers against museum visitors, picking up and moving pieces on a physical checkerboard. Lefty's game logic ran on an Atari 800 computer, which controlled the robot through the joystick port. Lefty was programmed by Scott Savage, the subject of today's interview.

Before the interview, Scott digitized his Atari cassette tape with the code for Lefty. The tape had some problems, but Atari community member "atarigrub" successfully recovered the data. Scott also provided scans of several newspaper and magazine articles about Lefty. Both the Lefty program and those articles are available at Internet Archive.

Also, be sure to watch the only known video of Lefty in action: Scott and Lefty appeared on the TV show "Dannysday" which aired on KOCO TV in spring 1984.

This interview took place on April 14, 2022.

Scott and Lefty on Dannysday TV show

Lefty BASIC program and media mentions

Paper about Lefty (in Spanish)

Scott Savage Techno Scavenger YouTube channel

Omniplex is now called Science Museum Oklahoma

This interview on YouTube