Never mind Nik Wallenda, Crashed Ice, New Year’s parties or Jay Cochrane.
Niagara Falls is having an even bigger blockbuster even today, and it’s not costing a cent. Google’s home search page illustration – the Google Doodle – features the Spanish Aero Car tourist attraction in celebration of the 160th birthday of its designer, Leonardo Torres-Quevedo.
Google is actually paying homage to Torres-Quevedo first and foremost as the inventor of the world’s first computer game – a device that played chess – but the image is that of a person standing on the cable car – and the links follow through to any number of local tourist destinations. With Google logging an estimated 2 billion searches per day, that translates into about 300 million users. Every day.
“It’s great publicity,” said Niagara Parks Commission Chairwoman Janice Thomson, who said she had no advance warning of Google’s plans.
The Internet giant did, however, write about it on a recent blog.
“Torres-Quevedo’s inventions span many fields. He was the second in the world to demonstrate wireless remote control, beaten to the post only by Nikola Tesla. His designs for airships were used by both the French and British during WWI. He was a global leader in cable car design, creating the “Spanish aero car” over the Niagara Whirlpool which, nearly a century on, remains a tourist attraction. However, his most remarkable achievements were in the field of automation, developing machines that are antecedents to what we now call computers and robots.
“Torres-Quevedo’s ambitions were bold. As Scientific American proclaimed in 1915: ‘He would substitute machinery for the human mind.” In the 1890s, Torres-Quevedo built a series of mechanical devices that solved algebraic equations. In 1920 he wowed a Paris audience with an electromechanical arithmometer with a typewriter attachment. You simply typed a formula—say, “24×48”—and the machine would calculate and automatically type the answer “=1152” in reply.’
“But El Ajedrecista, an algorithmically powered machine that could play an end-game of chess against a human opponent completely automatically, is his most notable creation. Although it’s a far cry from Deep Blue, El Ajedrecista can lay claim to being the world’s first (analog) computer game.”
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati said the push by Google continues to demonstrate the world-wide appeal of the city.
“Every time someone writes, says or makes reference to Niagara Falls, we win. This example further illustrates the global branding appeal of Niagara Falls on the world stage.”