Until today, Las Vegas casinos as well as Roulette and Blackjack enthusiasts around the world remember Edward Thorp. This is the name of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s genius math teacher who defeated the rules of gambling.
In 1962, Thorp published a book called “Beat The Dealer”, which basically made public the secret recipe to win at Blackjack using a mathematical method based on the rule of probability. The book was extremely successful and and not long after its release, casinos even had to change the rules of the game to give more advantage to the dealers. Beat The Dealer is nowadays still considered as the bible of Blackjack.
Meanwhile, Thorp was working on another project with the MIT’s professor Claude Shannon, known as one of the founders of information theory. Together, they were trying to find out if it was possible to apply mathematical theories to beat the Roulette game, just as Thorp did with Blackjack. In trying to answer that question, they were on the verge of building the first wearable technology device.
The device is very close to today’s definition of a computer with only one purpose: beat the Roulette. Developed by Thorp and Shannon thanks to the IBM 704 computer, the electronic piece was worn strapped around the waist and responded to taps of a shoe.
Today, Edward Thorp is considered as the inventor of the first wearable device, even though he was far from having this concept in mind when he created his “machine”. He had no idea wearables were going to happen to this extent some day, and that devices such as smart watches would change the way people interact with computers and with one another.