Lisa Katayama at 9:33 am Tue, Apr 27, 2010
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Popular Science has a fun gallery of kooky vintage robots from way back in the day that do random tasks. For example, this 1949 robot named Elektro can count to 10 and smoke cigarettes.
Archive Gallery: Vintage Robots [Popular Science]
Wow, how simple! Why didn’t anyone think of this before?
They did. Back in 1949.
Westinghouse’s Elektro was somewhat alive and well a few years ago when I visited the Mansfield Memorial Museum in Mansfield, Ohio. You were able to buy antique stick pins of him from the 1939 World’s Fair (mine is hanging on my living room wall) and have your photo snapped with the robotic tin man. However, this posting sheds some doubt that he is still there as it says the owner (a former Westinghouse exec’s brother)wants to put him on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
I like the one that cuts off heads and stores them in its leg-cupboards.
I believe Elektro actually was “birthed” for the 1939-40 NY World’s Fair, where he performed at the Westinghouse pavilion. He appears in the great industrial film THE MIDDLETON FAMILY AT THE NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR (free download here: http://www.archive.org/details/middleton_family_worlds_fair_1939, and his history is detailed in ROBOTS OF WESTINGHOUSE, a book by Scott Schaut, available here: http://www.amazon.com/Robots-Westinghouse-Today-Scott-Schaut/dp/0978584414.
“can count to 10 and smoke cigarettes.” I think that I worked with him once.
Did they program the Swiss Yodel-bot to milk the electronic cow?
…and the real cowhide on it? It must have been for Uncanny Valley Farms.
Have fun looking at this from Australia, the link redirects to the popsci.com.au server, which, oops, doesn’t have the story posted.
Nice work PopSci.
And Elektro was also in the movies! He played “Thinko” in the 1960 Mamie van Doren film SEX KITTENS GO TO COLLEGE, where Mamie was a stripper with a genius IQ called in to head a university’s science department. Thinko was featured in a dream sequence in which he imagined a bevy of strippers performing for him and a chimp. Full story here:
Sadly, he passed away in the late seventies from bellow cancer.
A mentally-deficient robot who steals your smokes? Where can I buy one?!
Mom’s Friendly Robot Company, in about 1000 years.
Not for sale in Arizona, though.
Is that Bender’s great-great-great-great-great grandfather?
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