Today we revisit an episode on the technology of yesteryear. Long before Czech playwright Karel Capek coined the term "robot" in his 1920 play "R.U.R.," mechanized creations - automata - were being created without electronics or computers. Many were simple, but they paved the way for the robots of today.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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The vehicle line up and visit your local area, Mazda dealer today, everybody happy Saturday future depression in part, because there is a new star wars movie. I have droids of the brain really bad, so it seemed like a good time to revisit an episode about mankind's early attempts at automata. This episode from twenty thirteen looks that five different historical inventions that very loosely fall into the discussion of early robotics
we continue stuff. You missed in history class from Housetop works, tat come alone, one welcomes upon cat, I'm hoping for, and I'm Tracy Wilson and I'm willing to batteries. Even when you hear the term robots, you think your things like handles
ask him oh or the eye robot rumour that might turn around the house. Tidying up, I think of
bad row by heavy placard yeah from Data Abrams Production Company up, but
they were actually way along before check playwright Carol, Capek coined the term robot in his nineteen twenty play are, you are, which did ferocity universal robots. There were mechanized creations atomic.
They were being created without electronics are computers and many were no fairly simple, but they really paved the way for robots of today. So if you do a search for
first robot or earliest robot online. You probably in a fine all kinds of different conflicting answers. Some of them are Phyllis
the goal, some of them are mythological and some of them are religious. We know that Clockwork
ices go back many many many years, but most historians on this subject are not really eager to pinpoint which exact one was first year their first. There are too many possible answers because there are some mythological ones that are necessarily supported with hard evidence. Those one very little bit tricky some people even referred awake, the biblical story of creation, as kind of a first, almost robotics experiment, sort of thing. So there s really hard. I mean you get into a big philosophical debate with people. If you say this was the first robot we know about for sure, he'll again there, some other options near ceiling do that some of them are so far back in history that this substantiation for them is just not a hundred percent clear racket and we're gonna, look back at their early history of mechanized beings and clockworks
dean, powered many marvels, say you're, not gonna, hear talk about the DARPA, big dog or the Mars curiosity Rover we're going be incredibly old school with this list, so nothing pass the late, seventeen hundreds and we have just selected five for the sake upon cast length. But of course that mean leaves out many many others, because there really are many more examples of this than I think many people realize so think of this is just a sampling of some of mankind's ventures into automated beings and really I'm telling a fib. When I say it's five, it sort of five instances, but some of them feature more than one year
automata, so it's gonna, be fun. We're fudging our number, but we're doing it with a good heart. Yes and we're gonna start with one that is not easily substantiated, we're going off of one text, but it's important and that's yon she's automated man, so the first one is in China. The reference to it can be found in a third century BC. Taoist text
in the course of this text. A story is told of King mood of chew, who reigned from nine. Seventy six to nine twenty, two b c e in it. This so called artificer presence.
An automated man to the king and his book, science and civilization, and China volume to writer Joseph Needham quotes a translated text about this automaton. In his quote. He says the king stared at the figure in astonishment it well
with rapid strides moving its head up and down so that anyone would have taken it for alive human being. The artificer touched its chin and it began singing perfectly in tune. He touched its hand in it, began posturing, keeping perfect time
as the performance was drawing to an end. The robot winked its eye and made advances to the ladies in attendance, whereupon the king became incensed and would have had young she executed on the spot.
had not the latter in mortal fear instantly taken the robot to pieces to,
see what it really was. Andy,
It turned out to be only a construction of leather would
whew and lacquer variously colored white blood,
red and blue. Examining it closely the king fell.
all the internal organs, complete liver, gall, heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys, stomach and intestine,
and over these again muscles bo
and limbs with their joints, skin teeth and hair, all of them artificial. The king tried the effect of taking away the heart and found that the mouse could know
or speak. He took away the liver, any eyes could no longer see he took away the kidneys and the legs lost their power of locomotion. The king was delighted so and that's an often referred to text when people talk about the history of robots,
and we don't have evident hard evidence of this automaton, but its significance,
Would have been mentioned in a historical, doubtless text that refers back seven hundred years. It evidences this fascination with me
chemical beings going way way way back in the ancient history. So early yeah
I would be delighted to if I were the king, who would not so that's our first one and the second one is a little more recent and that this one was a pigeon created by our Qaeda's of tourism and our Qaeda's was
turn around for twenty eight b c e and a great controlled territory. That's now part of southern ITALY. He was a very accomplished man, he
the philosopher, Mathematician an astronomer, a statesman and a commander in chief, and sometimes he gets called the Father of mechanics. He said to me, the most advanced of the pythagorean mathematicians and classified mathematics and affordable
and geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music. He was really
Louis Michel, in his time and our kindness, also influence the work
Plato and Aristotle. In fact, he said to have rescued Plato from Dionysus. The second but historians are generally pretty quick to point out.
The relationship between Plato and our Titus, was a complex one. It was pretty complicated. They had similar stances on many philosophical issues, but they also had some pretty obvious disagreements, but for today's interests the accomplishment of our greatest that's the most relevant is a mechanical bird. This
and which he called simply. The pigeon was suspended at the end of a pivoting bar. It move
and revolutions around the bar either using a jet of steam or compressed air, and while the bird, which was created somewhere between four hundred and three fifty b c e, is often listed as a footnote to our criticism.
Body of work. It's really important to remember that he built this mechanism more than two thousand years ago. So is this very simple little robotic pigeon. Some people point do it is the first robot and record
history, but, as we mentioned earlier, and it's the claim that a lot of people are just not willing to make for it, one hundred percent sure about any of these yeah and now there's kind of a big jump to our next one, because we are getting to Davinci, who many people know was real,
Didn't mechanics and so Leonardo was born in April of one thousand four hundred and fifty two he's one of history's, most famous men. So we all know his famous paintings like the last supper and the Mona LISA and his drawings of their truvian man. So he's not really a mystery to anyone who has even a passing knowledge of history late in his life and one thousand five hundred and fifteen. He created this automata lion, allegedly to prevent to King Francois, the first the faux felyne was said to have walked forward toward the king, opened up its shell
and revealed a cluster of lilies, and while there are some lack of specificity about the original Mayan,
neither did not leave any sketches of it. He did make detailed sketches of the mechanism
that? He likely used in its construction, any less some notes as well and in two thousand
I ran out O bore at O Master builder of Atomic. I use those sketches and divinities notes and he actually recreated the lion. It's really really interesting to me
watch. You can find video of it online and we'll link to some of it. You know it's kind of sobering to watch this sample of robotics. That's based on early fifteen hundreds ingenuity, cuz, it's still a pretty impressive piece today to see this. It almost looks like a giant toy, it's life size, but it's you no carb. So it doesn't look like a real lion, but it just it moves along and it kind of has wheels and its feet and it rolls as its legs move along the floor and it tilts its head side to side and it's kind of mind blowing me to think that was designed hundreds of years ago.
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Leonardo author designed a fully automated man that was styled to look like an armored night with a rope and gear MA's mechanism to raise and move the lambs. But there's no record of
when actually being built. A tie and robotics historians have also constructed a machine based on these designs. Yeah. I damn it can't do quite the amount of moving on its own that the lion can justify. We focused on the line for this one, but I thought that the M, the armored men she get at least dimension, and then we get to a couple of entries that are really really mind. Blowing the first is Vulcan since fleet player and like it said, the sun is kind of a twofold. It's not really just the one. We're gonna talk about his famous duck automaton as well, which it when I have mentioned our colleague.
that we are working on this park, as everyone asks about the duck, and I just came to shrug- will get there so Jacques De Vulcan son, who was born in Grenoble on February, twenty fourth of seventeen o nine, and he was the youngest child of ten born to a glove maker and a devout catholic wife, and the story goes that Jacques was obsessed with mechanical things at a very young age. He studied with the Jesuits as a youngster. He even entered a monastery but the age of sixteen as a means of supporting his scientific studies, because at that point his father was gone.
Mother couldn't really just pay for him to play in his mechanized world and then later in seventeen twenty eight. He left the monastery to study, medicine and anatomy in Paris and throughout his life of Wilkinson, was inspired by medical science in his passion for an insight into the workings of anatomy, garnered him several patrons that supported his work through the years his most famous automaton was a gold plated, copper duck and what aid that it was
It could do many of the things real ducks could do. It could naked quack and drink water and flap its wings and mimic the digestive process
mining me of many novelty items owned by my grandfather. So yes, it's the famous grouping robot duck. What is everybody knows about
You know it's one of those like when you go: oh ancient robots, they go pooping, robot, Dutch, yes
in a letter written to the Abbey de Fontaine. He wrote my second machine or automaton is a duck in
I represent the mechanism of the intestines, which are employed in the operations of eating drinking indigestion, wherein the working of all the parts necessary for these actions is exactly imitated. The duck stretches out its neck to take corn out of her hand its while, as it does just that and discharges it by adjusted by the usual passage Emma, I feel compelled to know it didn't. Actually digested there was no chemical breakdown of whatever you handed it, you could handed buttons and it would. Those would pass through its automated little system, and I think it when modern ears here, if they think of it, as this kooky novelty thing, but really he was trainer represents a full anatomical being liked him.
more about the science of, and study of you know biology than it was leg. Look my duck. Poops set right left. There has to be something you buy in the back of a Spencer give rights, but that duck was actually created to boost attendance, editing
Libya of another of vote concerns works, which was his automatic fleet player. The food play
was allegedly conceived in a fever state, while he was ill, a famous marble statue by sculptor and
Kosovo was the inspiration for the shape of the figure. Although Vulcan zones
It was made of wood and then painted to look like marble, and this figure was five point five feet tall, which is about one point: seven,
nurse in the modern book living dolls, a magical history of the quest for mechanical life, Gabby, would rights of the mechanical fleet player. Nine bellows were attached to three separate pipes that led into the chest of the figure. Each set of three bellows was
to a different way to give out varying degrees of air, and then all pipes joined into a single one, equivalent to a trachea continuing up through the throat and widening to form the cavity of the mouth. The lips, which bore upon the whole of the flute, could open and close and move.
Cords or forwards inside the mouth was a movable metal tongue which govern the airflow and created pauses, this automaton breathed, which is cool, it's really cool it. It's an incredibly complex design and, of course, you know, the fleet is hard instrument play when you're an actual human cells.
She had to do something tricky. Yes, the borrowing from his family's roots. He gave the fleet players hands askin, covering to mimic the soft touch that you need to play a flute. That's a tricky and instrument a master even for people and his mechanized minstrel could play twelve different tunes.
best. Flute player went on display on February 11th of one thousand seven hundred and thirty eight. In the cost of entry to see this marvel was roughly equivalent to a week's worth of wages for the app
average manual labor. So this is a serious moneymaker, because people were paying that to go see it. I mean it was too fantastical to scan
which is why, when the attendants fella vacancy added the duck to the exhibit, as well as another piece Kabbah tambourine player in an effort to bring audiences back and keep the money flowing, he sold off his Mackay
go creations and seventeen forty one and at that point became France's inspector of silk. Manufacture is adventures in that job. Could.
maybe their own podcast. They really could he released sort of revolutionized looms, but the flu
player in the other atomic changed hands several times, and the flu player was last seen in the possession of got freed, Christoph Berries, doktor to the Duke of Brunswick, and then he disappeared from history. After the doctors death, the duck turned up a couple more times and there are allegedly their pictures of it or something. That's very much like it that you can find online, but the fleet player. We don't. We don't know where it landed. Just a pity cause. I would really like to see how that works right and then for our final entry in our list of five instances. There.
actually three pieces in this, but they're, quite marvellous. Yes, they are the work of Pierre Jaquet Droz, who was born on July 28th, one thousand seven hundred and twenty one in Switzerland with his family
primarily involved in two modes of employment farming and watch making an in seventeen. Thirty eight Jackie draws opened up his own watch. Shopping list, shudder, foam and initially specialised in pendulum clocks, but eventually he turned his attention to automated mechanisms and eventually began to smell cell small automata to especial clients. I also feel like we should mention that he is it's kind of assigned known, but he's often credited with creating the wristwatch. So he was very much into shrinking mechanisms down which plays into his work in automata in seventeen seventy four he in his
on real Louie and a clockmaker John Frederick Le Show presented their three creations, which are still considered to be marvels of mechanical engineering. The musician is the first one in its a female and dumb. She plays an organ and it's not an actual organ. It's a custom instrument that looks like an organ and she will bow at the end of her performances and cheaply.
Five different tunes and the mechanical works are actually all concealed beneath her gown, but her fingers move super briskly and they tap along at the instruments keys, and it's really quite something to watch. The draftsman can draw for pictures and he'll also blow dust and graphite off of his page.
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The draftsman looks more like a little boy and he looks almost identical to the third one, which is an automaton that people sort of hold in this.
extremely high regard, because it's really quite a marvel. It's called the writer and its to my mind and I think the mind of of many other than others that study this subject. It's the most impressive of this
hurry, because he can write as many as forty letters in sequence and because he has built with a series of coded gears in his back that can be moved. He can actually be programmed to write new sequences. His men
just aren't static and hill dip, his pen in an inkwell, so that it needs to be refreshed whenever he writes any carefully scrawls out the programme message on the paper and his eyes actually follow his pen as he's working, which is sort of amazing and wonderful. The fact that this one
be programmed to do different things would probably put him higher on the list and, like the knit pickers list of
robots because one of in terms of today's terms,
Ology one of the hallmarks of robotics is that these are programmable thing, yet not just things that work, I'm like a remote control or some kind of tether, yeah and Jackie Dry
would take these automata around with him unto her. While he was visiting wealthy families- and he would you know, have them do their little activities and show off, and then he would use those charms to sell his high and watches and smaller automata too
elite clientele any would also book them into hotel rooms and then charge admission for people to come and see them, and the jockey dress name is still famous for its watches, just as Paul portray, who we discussed in a previous podcast brought raining into fashion houses. Jackie draws did a similar thing and he understood the idea of building a brand in his industry in his touring,
mom- and I were part of that brand today. This trio lives in the Museum of ART and history in Switzerland, and they all still work, which is a testament to the extraordinary engineering and skill that went into their
yeah. Those are other ones that you can see. Lots of video footage of online on be now people carefully, programming them, and so I ve noticed in some of
It's a little squeaky and some points they have to scoot the the paper along for a little bit, because the paper actually gets kind of moved on this little carrier that goes back and forth underneath his hands, but generally he still they're all still in great working order and pretty amazing and I feel like we should mention as we wrap up we're not going to talk about this one. But I know people
well, we didn't include it, which is the category eat Ningyo, which our japanese automata debts are generally reference from, like sixteen through early nineteenth century. Am I really think they deserve their own podcast?
so stay tuned. It would be easier to talk about. Robots are not mentioned Japan and also to make sure we at least pointed those out. They also cannot go past the point in history where we wanted to do the cut off not so much the early the little later than early, some of it
spin this realm that are talking about, but it goes on a little bit further and there are many different types and I feel like they just they deserve their own home. A little discussion, cuz they're, really quite amazing, but those are like, I said, a little sampling of historical robotics and automata that I just I think it's sort of beautiful and wonderful that going back these thousands of years, we've always been obsessed with creating
of mechanized versions of ourselves and other natural elements of the world right, and one of these remind me of stuff that happened much later or things that that later
very cool so that historical robots, hopefully do more, perhaps in the future. In addition, in the Japanese once its concern about the US, there really cool. I also as as were reading this. I just like every description sort of could have ended with the sentence and then they all came to life and the doktor had to come and say that. Thank you so much for joining us for the latter day club,
hopefully do more, perhaps in the future, in addition in the japanese ones, because robot their austere, really cool. I also as as were reading this. I just like every description sort of could have ended with this,
and then they all came to life and the doktor had to come in favour.
Thank you so much for joining us for the latter day. Classic does this out of an archive if you heard an email address or Facebook, U R, L or something similar during the course of the show that may be obsolete now. So here is our current contact information we're at history, podcast that how stuff works, dot, com and then we're at missed in history all over social media
Our name on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Penrith and Instagram. Thanks again for listening
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