Alfred Binet

Alfred Binet (July 8, 1857 – October 18, 1911) was a French psychologist who invented the first practical intelligence test, the Binet-Simon scale.

His principal goal was to identify students who needed special help in coping with the school curriculum. Along with his collaborator Théodore Simon, Binet published revisions of his intelligence scale in 1908 and 1911, the last appearing just before his death.

Binet had done a series of experiments to see how well chess players played when blindfolded. He found that only some of the master chess players could play from memory and a few could play multiple games simultaneously without looking at the boards. To remember the positions of the pieces on the boards, some players envisioned exact replicas of specific chess sets, while others envisioned an abstract schema of the game. Binet concluded that extraordinary feats of memory such as blind chess playing could take a variety of mnemonic forms. He recounted his experiments in a book entitled Psychologie des grands calculateurs et joueurs en echec, (Paris: Hachette, 1894).