Our shoe computer is currently on loan to the Heinz Nixdorf Museum in Paderborn, Germany.

Our shoe computer is currently on loan to the Heinz Nixdorf Museum in Paderborn, Germany.

While still in graduate school my childhood friend Norman Packard and I formed a group called Eudaemonic Enterprises. Our goal was to beat the game of roulette and use the proceeds to form a science commune. The word eudaemonia comes from Aristotle and refers to a state of enlightenment derived from a life lived in accordance with reason.

We bought a roulette wheel and did an extensive experimental and theoretical study of its physics.  To execute our system we built the first wearable digital computer, at roughly the same time as the first Apple desktop computer.  I hand-coded the three kilobyte program for the computer in machine language.  The program included a floating point package, a sequencer to perform the calculation, and an operating system that functioned with toe inputs and vibrating outputs.  The earliest version of the computer was hidden under the armpits, but a later version was concealed in a shoe.

Our scheme took advantage of the fact that typically more than ten seconds elapse from the time the croupier releases the ball until bets are closed.  During this time one person measured the position and velocity of the ball and rotor using his big toe to click a switch in his shoe.  The computer used this information to predict the likely landing position of the ball.  A signal was relayed to a second person, who quickly placed the bets. We made over eleven trips to Las Vegas, Reno and Tahoe, and achieved a 20% advantage over the house, but suffered persistent hardware problems.  This combined with our fear of violence at the hands of the casinos, so that we never played for high stakes and failed to realize the large sums we originally dreamed of.