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 grew as they found time to procreate (basically, the population doubled every couple of days). The lifespan of each monkey was set at 50 years. One monkey was assumed to hit one key per second with 2000 characters fitting on each page. The program assumed the typewriters' keys were the same size so the monkeys had an equal chance to hit any key.
Rather than match characters from the entire page submitted by each monkey, the program only read from the beginning of a page to the end, because it only looked for an exact match as opposed to the fewest mistakes made by a monkey.
Sometime around February of 2005 the last documented total of characters matched occurred. It was the first 24 characters from Henry IV part 2
. Higher totals were most likely achieved (my highest was sixteen characters from The Tempest
), but unfortunately they were not documented. It took 2,737,850 million billion billion billion
monkey-years for them to achieve that record. A year in the program passed every second. Monkey years were the number of years multiplied by the number of monkeys.
The program compared each page of random monkey text against 37 uncopyrighted Shakespeare plays. His sonnets and lesser regarded poetry were not scrutinized by the program.
Unfortunately, the site is no longer available online. Accurate records of how many characters the monkeys achieved are unknown. If there is a more up-to-date figure than the one provided here please pass along the information so it can be documented.
The website was formerly located at http://user.tninet.se/~ecf599g/aardasnails/java/Monkey/webpages/index.html, and can be viewed using the Wayback Machine.