Archive for February, 2010

1975 – AROK – Ben Skora (American)

Miss Nude World with AROK – click here only if over the age of 18.


See 1979 French newsreel clip here showing Arok, SNEB, and Ben Skora's automated house.

"Home Movie" DVD extract (6 minutes into 9 minute clip)

See also this clip made by Ben's friend and modern filmmaker,  Bohus Blahut
  (BOH-hoosh BLAH-hoot). 

Interface Age Apr 1977  pp38-9

By Linda Folkard-Stengel
Inventor Benjamin Skora is a resident of the Chicago area, a region notoroius for its fearsome winter climates. Back in 1949, Mr. Skora designed a system into his car that would enable him to start the motor of his car and warm up the passenger cabin before the driver had left the warmth of his home. He operated this convenient device for many months. Its success inspired him to add to the unit until he had designed a system by which the driver could sit on the porch and direct the car to start, stop, open and close the windows, honk the horn and wipe the windshields.
With each new car Mr. Skora acquired, he built in his telemetered system with improvements. The remote- controlled car became a local attraction and soon the inventor was displaying his system for promotional purposes.
What could so successfully be done with a motorcar, might also be done for an indoor machine. When the Skora family built a home in Palos Hills, Illinois, Ben Skora incorporated many futuristic features into the dwelling; sliding doors operate electrically, draperies open and close by push-button and a revolving turntable contains a seating arrangement which swings around to open to the patio in good weather. Kitchens and bathrooms are automated for maximum convenience. All that was needed was a robot to push the buttons—and Ben Skora designed one.
The name AROK is derived from "Skora" eliminating the "S" and backwards. According to its creator, it is more than a mirror-reversed version of the designer; it is a crystallization of the upwelling vapours from the wellsprings of creativity resting quiescent within the human consciousness. Ben Skora has no training in electronics; a former owner of a recording studio, he is completely self-taught.
AROK has an insurable value of over a million dollars. It is 6'8" tall and weighs 275 lbs. It has the capacity of lifting 150 lbs. Power is derived from two 12V car batteries, one to supply power to the electronics and the other to the drive motors.
The frame at the base is made of heavy angle iron. The entire upper frame is aluminum. The batteries are placed on platforms in the feet and the drive mechanism in the base. This gives the unit a low center of gravity. enabling it to bend over and lift weights without tipping over. He can bend at the waist to a 45% angle and turn the upper torso to the right and left.
The integument of the body is aluminum sheeting, hand formed and welded.
The "skull" is molded from fibreglas and the face shield is from a motorcycle helmet. The face inside the helmet is a rubber mask which covers the actuating mechanism for the jaws.
The flexible neck enables the head to move forward, backward, right and left. This movement greatly enhances the lifelike appearance, especially during conversation. The electromechanical jaw actuators contain attachments to the inside of the mask at the mouth. A microphone and a speaker are contained in the head. As the operator talks into the microphone in the control panel, the robot jaw mechanism responds to the voice causing the lips to move.
The arms are jointed at shoulder, elbow and wrist. The arms can raise from the shoulders, the elbows can bend.
The rubber-glove-clad hands are designed on bushings and screwjacks which allow for grasp, roll and rock motion creating an uncanny illusion of humanlike motion.
AROK moves at a variable speed from two to three mph, forward and backward on wheels with a turning radius equivalent to his own length. The wheels are set into the bootshaped housing for the batteries. Control of ambulation is achieved by telemetry and built-in program.
Three antennae in the head receive and transmit signals from the control panel through F.M. wavelengths. The tones are generated by conventional telephone pads The control panel has a bank of buttons, each representing a field of function and corresponding to a motion function on either side of the robot. To raise the right arm, Button #1 is depressed; to lower the right arm, #2 Button is actuated; Button #3 raises the elbow up and #4 lowers it. The control pannel supplies the robot with 36 functions at present and an additional 36 functions are planned to be added in the near future.
Signals transmitted to the robot are filtered through a set of active filters then to relays for two-speed modulation of the motors in the various areas of the body. There are a total of 15 motors, all of them redesigned automobile electric motors connected to approximately 35 relays and hundreds of solid-state ICs and transistors.
A memory tape enables the recording and programming of the telemetered routine to be repeated at will. Ben Skora at present is working on autonomous movement by means of the microprocessor. His programming routines will be the subject of future articles.
The Skora robot at this time vacuums the carpet, walks the dog, picks up and carries parcels, serves drinks and answers the door. Its principle function at this time, however, is a demonstration device and a public relations spokesman for the coming age of cybernetics. Children find the adult-sized toy irresistible and knowledgeable adults listen attentively as Ben Skora describes his future plans for a bio-feedback organism operated by alpha waves.


Inventor Skora's latest creation is SNEB, a Star Wars robot lookalike. More complex than Arok, SNEB is programmed to learn from its own experiences.

1954 – Robert the Robot & 1955 – Arthur the Robot – Kirt Golden (American)

(above) Robert the Robot  is the first robot built by Kirt Golden in 1954.

Interesting robot built by Kirt Golden, age 16 at the time (1955). Limited budget led him to realize that one dextrous arm is sufficient to perform most tasks. For a small robot, it had sufficient weight and power to push a rotary lawn-mower.

see video clip here (near end of clip).

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1970 – Percy – Dennis Weston (British)

Inventor controls his robots up to two miles away
One of England's most ingenious robot inventors is Dennis Weston of Leeds. His best known creation is Tinker, a six-foot-taII robot that can be programmed for such tasks as washing a car (upper right). Tinker is activated by some 430 motors and can be controlled up to two miles away via Weston's control panel (upper left). A TV camera in the robot's head even transmits a picture to the operator. In the two lower photos, Weston is shown at work on a new creation, Percy. Electronic sensors in the head (right) receive high-frequency signals that enable Percy to calculate the best route past objects in his path.
NEWS BRIEFS – Popular Mechanics May 1970.

See Dennis Weston's first robot, Tinker, here.

1969 – Commander Robot – David Coleman (American)




First year of skating and he's in the Follies!
Commander Robot is a 7-foot, 4-inch aluminum and plexiglass creation whose skating skill rates him a featured spot in Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies of 1969—as well as an admiring glance from another skater who obviously is not a robot. The robot's creator, Dave Colman, demonstrates the radio gear that transmits to the robot's 14-channel receiver to activate seven motors and control movement. In the robot are 50 pounds of batteries, clusters of servo switches, tape recorder, assorted lights and two 1/50th hp motors that drive sprockets that bite into the ice to make him move.

Greeting customers at a new American Savings office in 1973, was Ralph Roger Robot. He was a 7 1/2 foot tall talking robot that was originally built for the Ice Capades. In addition to talking, Ralph could walk and shake hands. On this day, he was escorted by Kay Witte.

Commander Robot evolved to Ralph Roger Robot.

1966 – Tinker the Robot – Dennis Weston (British)


[cyberneticzoo: Dec 2014]- Tinker the Robot lives! One of my favourite robots from all time has been found and will be cleaned-up over the next few months. Initially he was thought to have been scrapped. Thanks to Paul Weston, Dennis Weston's grandson by his first marriage, for the news and photo.

Tinker, a remote-controlled robot, is seen here performing one of his 180 separate movements for his inventor, 42-year-old Dennis Weston. The robot  contains 120 electronic motors, a zoom-TV camera, a memory and 29 channels for receiving signals from a gadget-filled cellar.  Mr. Weston can watch the robot while it cuts the lawn, odd-jobs, runs errands and takes the baby for a walk, by a television camera installed in the roof.

see video clip here.

The control panels inside Dennis Weston's garage.

Where is Tinker now?  If anyone knows of his whereabouts, please let me know.

**Update Jan 2012**

From correspondence with Dennis's son Martin (see comments below), he says that Tinker was given to his Dad's friend, Brian, in 1974 as Dennis no longer had the space available to keep it. Brian owned a shop called Leeds Radio during the 60s and 70s; he sold army surplus radio equipment. Most of the gear that went through Brian's shop was eventually stripped down and sold off as spare parts. Unfortunately, the same thing probably happened to Tinker. 
Percy was just another one of Martin's Dad's 10,000 unfinished projects. It never got completed and the hand just accumulated dust under a pile of junk in Dennis' cellar/workshop. It probably ended up being melted down for scrap. Martin's Dad, Dennis came up with lots of "inventions" during his lifetime, most of them were just fancy ideas he scribbled on the back of cigar packets. Dennis Weston died in 1995 aged 71.

See also Dennis Weston's Percy the Robot:

1970- Dennis Weston – "Percy"  
See other early Humanoid Robots here.