Monkeys and Shakespeare, your love was forbidden

25 08 2008

I have now pretty much imported all the links I was going to from my old Kickin’ Moron Ass sidebar.

One of the things that didn’t make the cut was the almighty Monkey Shakspeare Simulator. An online project attempting to test out Infinite Monkey Theroeom.

A non-working archive can be seen here for those after a whif of nostalgia.

A summary detailing the background and scope the Shakespeare simulator can be found at Everything2 – included below the fold for your pleasure.

The MSS even got a mention on USA Today.

Monkey Shakespeare Simulator
by Hommerabi Sat Feb 14 2004 at 23:35:23

The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator was created by Nick Hoggard to see how long the famous quote “If you have enough monkeys banging randomly on typewriters, they will eventually type the works of William Shakespeare,” would actually take to accomplish.

The monkeys began their work on July 1, 2003. There were 100 monkeys to begin, but their number grows as they find time to procreate (basically, the population doubles every couple of days). The lifespan of each monkey is set at 50 years. One monkey is assumed to hit one key per second with 2000 characters per page. The monkey’s typewriters have keys that are all the same size, so the monkeys have an equal chance to hit any key.

Rather than match characters from the entire page submitted by each monkey, the program only reads from the beginning of a page to the end, because it only looks for an exact match.
Sometime around February of 2005 the last documented total of characters matched occured. It was 24 character matches from Henry IV part 2. Certainly higher totals were achieved, but unfortunately, they were not documented. It took 2,737,850 million billion billion billion monkey-years for them to achieve this record. A year in the program passes every second. Monkey years are the number of years multiplied by the number of monkeys.

The program compares each page of random monkey text against 37 uncopyrighted plays of Shakespeare’s; his sonnets and lesser regarded poetry are not scrutinized by the program.

Unfortunately the site is no longer available online. Accurate records of how many characters the monkey’s achieved are unknown. If someone has a more up-to-date figure than the one I provide, I would appreciate the knowledge.

The website was formerly located at, and can be viewed using the wayback machine at



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