Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Your doorway to those rare collectibles that everyone is searching for: books, props, posters, cards, and paper ephemera are all here for you to buy and sell.
User avatar
Brad Jeffers
Posts: 1065
Joined: April 11th, 2008, 5:52 pm
Location: Savannah, GA

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby Brad Jeffers » September 16th, 2020, 12:00 am

martinsmagic wrote: ... I think I'll track down a suitable calculator and see what I can do.

There are hundreds of TI-85s for sale on Ebay.

Could someone who has one of these graphics calculators and the users manual; and who has a thorough understanding of how the Fitch Cheney card trick works; be able to program the calculator to perform this effect?

I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it.

Would it be difficult?

User avatar
Chas Nigh
Posts: 199
Joined: March 24th, 2008, 10:45 pm
Location: California

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby Chas Nigh » September 16th, 2020, 12:39 am

If anyone is interested in the Fitch Cheney 5 Card Trick find it here- https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/ ... ey-mulcahy

User avatar
Chas Nigh
Posts: 199
Joined: March 24th, 2008, 10:45 pm
Location: California

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby Chas Nigh » September 16th, 2020, 12:42 am


User avatar
martinsmagic
Posts: 11
Joined: August 6th, 2020, 12:51 am
Favorite Magician: Robert Harbin, Fred Kaps
Location: Spicewood, Texas
Contact:

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby martinsmagic » September 16th, 2020, 2:33 am

Brad Jeffers wrote:
martinsmagic wrote: ... I think I'll track down a suitable calculator and see what I can do.

There are hundreds of TI-85s for sale on Ebay. Could someone who has one of these graphics calculators and the users manual; and who has a thorough understanding of how the Fitch Cheney card trick works; be able to program the calculator to perform this effect?
I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it.
Would it be difficult?


Hi Brad,

Firstly the Al Stanger calculator combined with the John Mendoza routine is quite a lot more than the standard Fitch Cheney effect as described in the link above - it is 4 phases and the final phase completely breaks away from the Fitch Cheney approach. Gaetan Bloom's contribution is primarily to simplify and streamline John's 4 phase routine. In both versions of the routine (John's or Gaetan's) the program for the calculator does the same thing. It is effectively the same 3 phases with increasingly more convincing and fair ways of choosing the cards, with a final phase which is totally different and does not rely on the same Fitch Cheney system. You would ideally need the program and the routine if you were to tackle this.

But once you have figured out the method there is not a lot of code for the basic 1-3 phase routine so I don't think it is beyond the scope of an average programmer. But you need to be familiar with writing code, I don't think it is something you could tackle if you were not a programmer. Programmers think differently to non-programmers :) However, what makes it even trickier is that the programming interface for these old devices is nothing like we are used to today. When the TI-85 came out in 1992 I had a IBM RS/6000 520 Workstation at work and one in my apartment and at the time this was one of the fastest and most sophisticated computers available (and close to $25k each if I recall) and it was easy to bang out the code with advanced program editors, etc. But the interface for these calculators is mundane at best and the languages - TI-Basic or an assembler look alike are not very sophisticated so they require more lines of code to get the same results. For newer devices (like iphones etc) there are SDK's (Software Development Kits) that allow you to create the programs on a regular PC and then download it to the device. But I'm not sure if that sort of system is available for these older devices from 30 years ago.

Then if you use the TI-85's you still have the battery issue - I think this is a real issue, and I have a working one here. It turns out that as far as I can see these graphical calculators were battery backed up (i.e. volatile memory) until the early 2000's. And the challenge is finding a calculator that looks old enough to be as genuine as the TI-85 but be new enough to be able to have non-volatile memory. These devices were small and unlike in the PC's and work stations of the early 90's you could not slap a disk in one of these and SSD's were not really available as we are used to today. So it took another decade before it got easier to store things permanently on disk or SSD for a reasonable price. Given that most of these early graphical calculators used back-up batteries it clearly was not such a big deal to the users, but we have been spoiled and are used to things hanging around after the battery dies.

So long story short - even if you had the routine and the the method unless you are a programmer I don't think this is something you could begin to tackle and programming these devices is quite a different discipline to what most programmers are used to. So I would rate this quite a hard project.

If I can find a suitable graphical calculator I want to try it - but after my first post I've realized that finding a suitable calculator that looks old and yet has non-volatile RAM is much harder than I expected. I've always been a Unix/Linux guy since the late 1970's so this world is a little foreign to me.

And it might be tempting to strip away things or try it on tablets and/or smart phones, but when I went down this road 10+ years ago it was not very rewarding. The key things that I believe you need to keep for this effect to stay entertaining and amazing are:
    Old looking calculator
    Non-Volatile memory
    Basic or similar "high" level language
    Must be graphical - one of the key fun parts of the routine is watching the symbols for the cards get slowly "painted" on the screen. In fact the slower the better. This is another issue with modern, faster devices is they draw things instantly.

Ok that should be enough :geek:

andy
Martin's Magic Collection
The Largest Online Collection of Rare, Vintage, and New Magic!

Joe Mckay
Posts: 1789
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 6:56 am
Favorite Magician: Lubor Fiedler
Location: Durham, England

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby Joe Mckay » September 16th, 2020, 2:38 am

I haven't followed closely the approaches to this plot made by mathematicians. It seems to have become quite popular with mathematicians over the past ten years.

In terms of magicians who have tackled this plot - I really like the work Alex Elmlsey had on this plot in The Looking Glass. Also - Lewis Jones has some brilliant work on this plot as the final trick in Person To Person (the best book of telephone magic ever published).

That final trick has the most complex method for a trick I have ever seen. He manages to use 4 cards to encode 4 cards. It is incredible... and very complicated. He even found a way to use 4 cards to encode 5 cards. It is pretty astonishing.

Also - here is an interesting approach to the problem:

http://cardcolm.org/Pics/2014_11%20Thre ... uffice.pdf

User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 4346
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby erdnasephile » September 16th, 2020, 7:28 am


Tom Frame
Posts: 1084
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Del Ray
Location: San Francisco

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby Tom Frame » September 16th, 2020, 9:31 am

Oooh, that final phase is excruciatingly exquisite! I cannot fathom how the participant can input the cards in any order.
"There is more to consciousness than meets the mind's eye." - Frame

User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 4346
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby erdnasephile » September 20th, 2020, 12:59 pm

Last edited by erdnasephile on September 20th, 2020, 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 4346
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby erdnasephile » September 20th, 2020, 1:02 pm

BTW, Mr. Mendoza's statement about protection that I referred to earlier is from the instructions:

"The programs used in this machine are copyright and protected and any attempt to extract or transfer any or all of them will be prosecuted. The hardware for this has been modified to prevent and indicate any attempts and tampered machines will not be re-set under any circumstances"

User avatar
AJM
Posts: 1259
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Scotland

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby AJM » September 20th, 2020, 1:52 pm

erdnasephile wrote:There's one on ebay now:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/John-Mendoza-M ... SwRxBfZnKd


The seller is unsure if it works...who is willing to bet $300 plus on an old calculator?

Incidentally, I’m not sure a device with A, J, Q, K & suit stickers on the keys would suggest an innocent calculator.

Andrew
Corner-person Begrudger

Bob Farmer
Posts: 2706
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Short card above selection.

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby Bob Farmer » September 20th, 2020, 4:21 pm

I have a decades old Radio Shack astrology calculator that looks really cool:

https://www.handheldmuseum.com/Tandy/Astro.htm

Too bad it is not programmable; it would a nice prop for this trick.

User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 4346
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Looking for al Stranger miracle poker machine

Postby erdnasephile » September 20th, 2020, 8:29 pm

AJM wrote:
erdnasephile wrote:There's one on ebay now:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/John-Mendoza-M ... SwRxBfZnKd


The seller is unsure if it works...who is willing to bet $300 plus on an old calculator?

Incidentally, I’m not sure a device with A, J, Q, K & suit stickers on the keys would suggest an innocent calculator.

Andrew


Andrew:

You certainly make a fair point. Caveat emptor (However, it should be an easy matter to contact the seller and determine whether the calculator works--there's a self test in the instructions that could quickly be run by the seller)

PS: I'm certainly not endorsing the auction. I have nothing to do with it and don't know the seller. Just trying to be helpful (I hope).


Return to “Collector's Marketplace”