Archive for the ‘Early Robot Enabling Technologies’ Category

1902 – Telekine (Telekino) – Leonardo Torres Quevedo (Spanish)

THE TELEKINE (or Telekino in Spanish)
Torres Quevedo started to develop the idea of a remote control around 1901 or 1902, as a way of testing his airships without risking human lives. He was the first person to lay down the modern remote control operation principles, which he expressed in a prototype that he patented in 1903 under the name Telekine (Fig. 4) [4]. This term came from two Greek words: tele (far away, in the distance) and kine (force, movement), resulting together in “movement at a distance,” which is basically what the inventor was trying to achieve. He carried out his first Telekine experiments a year later with a simple tricycle. He managed to make it go forward and backward, as well as change direction, by sending orders from a wireless telegraph transmitter from a distance of up to about 32 yd [5].
After this, Torres Quevedo decided to extend the use of his remote control to engine-driven boats. The tests he performed in 1905 and 1906, in Madrid’s Royal Country House (Real Casa de Campo) pond, with a small boat and short distances, as well as in Bilbao estuary, where he successfully took full control of a dinghy with a crew of eight at distances of over 1.25 mi, are well known [5].
The positive results of those experiences encouraged Torres Quevedo to apply to the Spanish government for the financial aid required to use his Telekine to steer submarine torpedoes, a technological field which was just starting out. His application was, sadly, denied, which caused him to abandon the development and improvement of the Telekine.

by ANTONIO PÉREZ YUSTE
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain and
MAGDALENA SALAZAR PALMA
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

REFERENCES
[1] J. Garcia Santesmases, Obra e Inventos de Torres Quevedo (Works and Inventions of Torres Quevedo). Madrid, Spain: Institute of Spain, 1980.
[2] J. M. Ballester, Leonardo Torres Quevedo. Madrid, Spain: Spanish Assoc. Civil Eng., 1978.
[4] Patente de Invención por un Sistema Denominado Telekino para Gobernar a Distancia un Movimiento Mecánico (Patent Application for a System, Called Telekine, to Steer a Mechanical Movement at Distance. Madrid, Spain: Spanish Patents and Trademarks Office, Jun. 10, 1903.
[5] A. Pérez Yuste and M. Salazar Palma, “The first wireless remotecontrol: The Telekine of Torres Quevedo,” presented at the IEEE Conf. History of Electronics (CHE 2004), Bletchley Park, U.K. (see pdf here).

PROCEEDINGS OF THE IEEE, VOL. 93, NO. 7, JULY 2005

Leonardo Torres y Quevedo was a world-renowned Spanish engineer. His fields of interest were very extensive and included mechanics, aeronautics, and automatics.


Electrical Engineering Hall of Fame
EARLY DEVELOPMENTS OF WIRELESS REMOTE CONTROL: THE TELEKINO OF TORRES-QUEVEDO

THE TECHNIQUE USED BY TORRES-QUEVEDO
These proposals, and others not cited above, were all based on a very simple technique known as "on/off", so they were able to discriminate whether an electromagnetic wave was being received, acting in a different way depending on the case. For example, the rudder could be steered to the left when the electromagnetic wave was received and to the right otherwise. This means that operation could be easily accomplished, for example, by actuating the valve of a steering engine that was worked by compressed air, jointly with a counter spring that turned the steering appliance in the opposite direction. Then, by switching the aforesaid valve continuously on and off, it was possible to maintain a certain direction of movement. In the case of Tesla, the receiver was even a bit more complex because it had three states of operation, not two: "on", "off", and "still". So, the rudder could be turned to the right, turned to the left or kept unmoved. These three states allow the selection of a direction for the vessel by means of an approximation process so, once reached, it was very easy to maintain it: ordering the rudder to turn in one direction, stopping it, ordering it to turn in the opposite direction, stopping it, ordering it to turn in the first direction again, stopping it, and so on, until obtaining the exact course desired. But in Tesla’s remote-control system, the propelling engine could not be directly controlled at a distance. Furthermore, it was coupled to the rudder in such a way that the motor was stopped when the rudder was turned beyond an angle of 45 from the zero position (no matter to the left or to the right) and was put in motion when the rudder was turned less than the said angle. Keeping all these restrictions in mind, Torres-Quevedo suggested a very innovative idea by establishing an easy method for controlling any mechanical or electrical device with different states of operation. He devised a remote-control system that required two things: a transmitter, which was capable of sending a family of different codewords by means of a binary telegraph signal, and a receiver, which was able to set up a different state of operation in the device being used, depending on the codeword. Putting both things together, he invented the Telekino, a word that came from Greek: tele (far, at distance) and kino (movement), resulting "movement at a distance", which was the desire of the Spanish engineer. In the description of his patent, Torres-Quevedo wrote about the Telekino in these terms:
"The invention comprises essentially a telegraphic transmission with or without wires determining the position of a needle which regulates a 'servomotor' (controller, switch or motor) that actuates any apparatus"(Fig. 3).

By applying the Telekino to electrically powered vessels, Torres-Quevedo was able to select different positions for the steering engine and different velocities for the propelling engine independently. He was also able to act over other mechanisms such a light, for switching on or off, and a flag, for raising or dropping it, at the same time. Specifically, Torres-Quevedo was able to do up to 19 different actions with his prototypes.

Vol. 96, No. 1, January 2008 | Proceedings of the IEEE


Complex trials were followed by extending the use of his Telekino to an electrical engine-driven boat at the Royal Country House Lake of Madrid, achieving distances of up to about 250 m [17]. Fortunately, theMayor of the City of Bilbao happened to be present at one of those trials. Being so astonished by the view of an unmanned boat, he immediately organized a fundraising campaign to promote new trials with the Telekino of Torres-Quevedo at the famous Estuary of Bilbao, sited in the north of Spain. Those were finally carried out on November 7, 1905, using a dinghy with a crew of eight, which was controlled at a distance over 2 km.

The Bilbao tests.



Patent Information:

[14] L. Torres, "Système dit telekine pour commander à distance un mouvement mécanique," France Patent 327 218, Dec. 10, 1902.
[15] L. Torres, "Sistema denominado 'telekine' para gobernar a distancia un movimiento mecánico," Spain Patent 31 918, Jun. 10, 1903.
[16] L. Torres, "Means or method for directing mechanical movements at or from a distance," U.K. Patent 27 073, Dec. 10, 1904.

Click on above image to go to the full patent copy. Note that the Patent is under Torres, not Quevedo.

Patent number: GB190327073 (A) 
Publication date: 1904-10-27 
Inventor(s): TORRES LEONARDO [ES] + (LEONARDO TORRES) 
Applicant(s): TORRES LEONARDO [ES] + (LEONARDO TORRES) 
Classification:  
– international: 
– european: 
Application number: GBD190327073 19031210  
Priority number(s): FRX190327073 19021210


1898 – Telautomaton – Nikola Tesla (Serbian/American)


Tesla – The Electric Mind 2-2

Model

Model

Patent number: 613809 (see full patent here)
Filing date: Jul 1, 1898
Issue date: Nov 1898
 

In September 1898, Tesla demonstrates his radio-controlled torpedo boat at Madison Square Garden in Ney York City. (Popular Science July 1956).


From Miessner's book "On the Early History of Radio Guidance", published in 1964.

44 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MIESSNER……
I [Miessner] am almost certain that the reader who reviewed the book for Van Nostrand was none other than Nikola Tesla. Since I was planning to include descriptions and drawings of his pioneering efforts in the field of automatic control, I had written to him, only to find that he was already well acquainted with my project. We exchanged three letters in all, the first in September 1915. (The originals of his letters are in the Manuscript Division of the New York Public Library.)
Tesla to Miessner, Sept. 29, 1915:
Your favor of September 24th has been received in due course and has interested me in view of your forthcoming book on "Radio Dynamics". Some time ago my friend, Charles E. Speirs of the D. Van Nostrand Company, told me that you were engaged in its preparation and I commended it for publication as very little has been written on the subject …
I am naturally greatly absorbed in this field of invention which has been barely touched and which I look upon as extremely promising. In an article in the Century Magazine, copy of which I am forwarding to you, I have related the circumstances which led me to develop the idea of a self-propelled automaton. My experiments were begun sometime in '92 and from that period, on, until '95, in my Laboratory at 35 South Fifth Avenue, I exhibited a number of contrivances and perfected plans for several complete telautomata. After the destruction of my Laboratory by fire in '95, there was an interruption in these labors which, however, were resumed in '96 in my new Laboratory at 46 East Houston Street where I made more striking demonstrations,
44 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MIESSNER
in many instances actually transmitting the whole motive energy to the devices instead of simply controlling the same from distance. In '97 I began the construction of a complete automaton in the form of a boat, which is described in my original patent specification 013,809. A copy of this, also, is being forwarded under separate cover. This application was written during that year but the filing was delayed until July of the following year, long before which date the machine had been often exhibited to visitors who never ceased to wonder at the performances. The drawings of this specification were made from this machine to scale. In that year I also constructed a larger boat which I exhibited, among other things, in Chicago during a lecture before the Commercial Club. In this lecture I treated the whole field broadly, not limiting myself to mechanisms controlled from distance but to machines possessed of their own intelligence. Since that time I have advanced greatly in the evolution of the invention and think that the time is not distant when I shall show an automaton which, left to itself, will act as though possessed of reason and without any wilful control from the outside. Whatever be the practical possibilities of such an achievement, it will mark the beginning of a new epoch in mechanics.
I would call your attention to the fact that while my specification, above mentioned, shows the automatic mechanism as controlled through a simple tuned circuit, I have used individualized control; that is, one based on the co-operation of several circuits of different periods of vibration, a principle which I had already developed at that time and which was subsequently described in my patents #723,188 and 723,189 of March, 1903. The machine was in this form when I made demonstrations with it in 1898 before the Chief Examiner, Seeley, prior to the grant of my basic patent on Method of and Apparatus for Controlling Mechanisms at a Distance. [My italics.]
In my experiments and investigations in Colorado from 1899 to 1900, I developed, among other things, two important discoveries which will be essential in the future development of telautomatics. They are described in my patents #685,953 and 119,732 which were taken out at a later date. These two advances make it possible to supply to an automaton great amounts of energy and also to control it with the utmost accuracy when it is entirely out of sight and at any distance. 


THE PROBLEM OF INCREASING HUMAN ENERGY
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCES TO THE HARNESSING OF THE SUN'S ENERGY.
by Nikola Tesla

Century Illustrated Magazine, June 1900
THE ONWARD MOVEMENT OF MAN—THE ENERGY OF THE MOVEMENT—THE THREE WAYS OF INCREASING HUMAN ENERGY.

…….
Figure 2.
A machine having all the bodily or translatory movements and the operations of the interior mechanism controlled from a distance without wires. The crewless boat shown in the photograph contains its own motive power, propelling and steering machinery, and numerous other accessories, all of which are controlled by transmitting from a distance, without wires, electrical oscillations to a circuit carried by the boat and adjusted to respond only to these oscillations.

With these experiences it was only natural that, long ago, I conceived the idea of constructing an automaton which would mechanically represent me, and which would respond, as I do myself, but, of course, in a much more primitive manner, to external influences. Such an automaton evidently had to have motive power, organs for locomotion, directive organs, and one or more sensitive organs so adapted as to be excited by external stimuli. This machine would, I reasoned, perform its movements in the manner of a living being, for it would have all the chief mechanical characteristics or elements of the same. There was still the capacity for growth, propagation, and, above all, the mind which would be wanting to make the model complete. But growth was not necessary in this case, since a machine could be manufactured full grown, so to speak. As to the capacity for propagation, it could likewise be left out of consideration, for in the mechanical model it merely signified a process of manufacture. Whether the automation be of flesh and bone, or of wood and steel, it mattered little, provided it could perform all the duties required of it like an intelligent being. To do so, it had to have an element corresponding to the mind, which would effect the control of all its movements and operations, and cause it to act, in any unforeseen case that might present itself, with knowledge, reason, judgment, and experience. But this element I could easily embody in it by conveying to it my own intelligence, my own understanding. So this invention was evolved, and so a new art came into existence, for which the name "telautomatics" has been suggested, which means the art of controlling the movements and operations of distant automatons. This principle evidently was applicable to any kind of machine that moves on land or in the water or in the air. In applying it practically for the first time, I selected a boat (see Fig. 2). A storage battery placed within it furnished the motive power. The propeller, driven by a motor, represented the locomotive organs. The rudder, controlled by another motor likewise driven by the battery, took the place of the directive organs. As to the sensitive organ, obviously the first thought was to utilize a device responsive to rays of light, like a selenium cell, to represent the human eye. But upon closer inquiry I found that, owing to experimental and other difficulties, no thoroughly satisfactory control of the automaton could be effected by light, radiant heat, hertzian radiations, or by rays in general, that is, disturbances which pass in straight lines through space. One of the reasons was that any obstacle coming between the operator and the distant automaton would place it beyond his control. Another reason was that the sensitive device representing the eye would have to be in a definite position with respect to the distant controlling apparatus, and this necessity would impose great limitations in the control. Still another and very important reason was that, in using rays, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to give to the automaton individual features or characteristics distinguishing it from other machines of this kind. Evidently the automaton should respond only to an individual call, as a person responds to a name. Such considerations led me to conclude that the sensitive device of the machine should correspond to the ear rather than the eye of a human being, for in this case its actions could be controlled irrespective of intervening obstacles, regardless of its position relative to the distant controlling apparatus, and, last, but not least, it would remain deaf and unresponsive, like a faithful servant, to all calls but that of its master. These requirements made it imperative to use, in the control of the automaton, instead of light or other rays, waves or disturbances which propagate in all directions through space, like sound, or which follow a path of least resistance, however curved. I attained the result aimed at by means of an electric circuit placed within the boat, and adjusted, or "tuned," exactly to electrical vibrations of the proper kind transmitted to it from a distant "electrical oscillator." This circuit, in responding, however feebly, to the transmitted vibrations, affected magnets and other contrivances, through the medium of which were controlled the movements of the propeller and rudder, and also the operations of numerous other appliances.
By the simple means described the knowledge, experience, judgment—the mind, so to speak—of the distant operator were embodied in that machine, which was thus enabled to move and to perform all its operations with reason and intelligence. It behaved just like a blindfolded person obeying directions received through the ear.
The automatons so far constructed had "borrowed minds," so to speak, as each merely formed part of the distant operator who conveyed to it his intelligent orders; but this art is only in the beginning. I purpose to show that, however impossible it may now seem, an automaton may be contrived which will have its "own mind," and by this I mean that it will be able, independent of any operator, left entirely to itself, to perform, in response to external influences affecting its sensitive organs, a great variety of acts and operations as if it had intelligence. It will be able to follow a course laid out or to obey orders given far in advance; it will be capable of distinguishing between what it ought and what it ought not to do, and of making experiences or, otherwise stated, of recording impressions which will definitely affect its subsequent actions. In fact, I have already conceived such a plan.
Although I evolved this invention many years ago and explained it to my visitors very frequently in my laboratory demonstrations, it was not until much later, long after I had perfected it, that it became known, when, naturally enough, it gave rise to much discussion and to sensational reports. But the true significance of this new art was not grasped by the majority, nor was the great force of the underlying principle recognized. As nearly as I could judge from the numerous comments which appeared, the results I had obtained were considered as entirely impossible. Even the few who were disposed to admit the practicability of the invention saw in it merely an automobile torpedo, which was to be used for the purpose of blowing up battleships, with doubtful success. The general impression was that I contemplated simply the steering of such a vessel by means of Hertzian or other rays. There are torpedoes steered electrically by wires, and there are means of communicating without wires, and the above was, of course an obvious inference. Had I accomplished nothing more than this, I should have made a small advance indeed. But the art I have evolved does not contemplate merely the change of direction of a moving vessel; it affords means of absolutely controlling, in every respect, all the innumerable translatory movements, as well as the operations of all the internal organs, no matter how many, of an individualized automaton. Criticisms to the effect that the control of the automaton could be interfered with were made by people who do not even dream of the wonderful results which can be accomplished by use of electrical vibrations. The world moves slowly, and new truths are difficult to see. Certainly, by the use of this principle, an arm for attack as well as defense may be provided, of a destructiveness all the greater as the principle is applicable to submarine and aerial vessels. There is virtually no restriction as to the amount of explosive it can carry, or as to the distance at which it can strike, and failure is almost impossible. But the force of this new principle does not wholly reside in its destructiveness. Its advent introduces into warfare an element which never existed before—a fighting-machine without men as a means of attack and defense. The continuous development in this direction must ultimately make war a mere contest of machines without men and without loss of life—a condition which would have been impossible without this new departure, and which, in my opinion, must be reached as preliminary to permanent peace. The future will either bear out or disprove these views. My ideas on this subject have been put forth with deep conviction, but in a humble spirit.


Nikola Tesla – Prodigal  Genius by John J. O'Neill

Nikola Tesla – Prodigal  Genius
p164
TESLA developed his inventions to the point at which they were spectacular performers before they were demonstrated to the public. When presented, the performance always greatly exceded the promise. This was the case with his first public demonstration of "wireless," but he complicated the situation by coupling with his radio invention another new idea—the robot (see my note below-RH).
Tesla staged his demonstration in the great auditorium of Madison Square Garden, then on the north side of Madison Square, in September, 1898, as part of the first annual Electrical Exhibition. He had a large tank built in the center of the arena
165
and in this he placed an iron-hulled boat a few feet long, shaped like an ark, which he operated by remote control by means of his wireless system.
Extending upward from the center of the roof of the boat was a slender metal rod a few feet high which served as an antenna, or aerial, for receiving the wireless wave. Near the bow and stern were two small metal tubes about a foot high surmounted by small electric lamps. The interior of the hull was packed with a radio receiving set and a variety of motor-driven mechanisms which put into effect the operating orders sent to the boat by wireless waves. There was a motor for propelling the boat and another motor for operating the servo-mechanism, or mechanical brain, that interpreted the orders coming from the wireless receiving set and translated them into mechanical motions, which included steering the boat in any direction, making it stop, start, go forward or backward, or light either lamp. The boat could thus be put through the most complicated maneuvers.
Anyone attending the exhibition could call the maneuver for the boat, and Tesla, with a few touches on a telegraph key, would cause the boat to respond. His control point was at the far end of the great arena.
The demonstration created a sensation and Tesla again was the popular hero. It was a front-page story in the newspapers. Everyone knew the accomplishment was a wonderful one, but few grasped the significance of the event or the importance of the fundamental discovery which it demonstrated. The basic aspects of the invention were obscured by the glamor of the demonstration.
The Spanish American War was under way. The success of the U.S. Navy in destroying the Spanish fleets was the leading topic of conversation. There was resentment over the blowing up of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor. Tesla's demonstration fired the imagination of everyone because of its possibilities as a weapon in naval warfare.
166
Waldemar Kaempffert, then a student in City College and now Science Editor of the New York Times, discussed its use as a weapon with Tesla.
"I see," said Kaempffert, "how you could load an even larger boat with a cargo of dynamite, cause it to ride submerged, and explode the dynamite whenever you wished by pressing the key just as easily as you can cause the light on the bow to shine, and blow up from a distance by wireless even the largest of battleships." (Edison had earlier designed an electric torpedo which received its power by a cable that remained connected with the mother ship.)
Tesla was patriotic, and was proud of his status, which he had acquired in 1889, as a citizen of the United States. He had offered his invention to the Government as a naval weapon, but at heart he was opposed to war.
"You do not see there a wireless torpedo," snapped back Tesla with fire flashing in his eyes, "you see there the first of a race of robots, mechanical men which will do the laborious work of the human race."
The "race of robots" was another of Tesla's original and im-portant contributions to human welfare. It was one of the items of this colossal project for increasing human energy and improving the efficiency of its utilization. He visualized the application of the robot idea to warfare as well as to peaceful pursuits; and out of the broad principles enunciated, lie developed an accurate picture of warfare as it is being carried on today with the use of giant machines as weapons—the robots he described.
"This evolution," he stated in an article in the Century Magazine of June, 1900, "will bring more and more into prominence a machine or mechanism with the fewest individuals as an element of warfare. . . . Greatest possible speed and maximum ale of energy delivery by the war apparatus will be the main object. The loss of life will become smaller. . . ."
Outlining the experiences that led him to design the robots, or automatons, as he called them, Tesla stated:
167
I have by every thought and act of mine, demonstrated, and do so daily, to my absolute satisfaction that I am an automaton endowed with power of movement, which merely responds to external stimuli beating upon my sense organs, and thinks and moves accordingly. . . .
With these experiences it was only natural that, long ago, I conceived the idea of constructing an automaton which would mechanically represent me, and which would respond, as I do myself, but, of course, in a much more primitive manner, to external influences. Such an automaton evidently had to have motive power, organs for locomotion, directive organs, and one or more sensitive organs so adapted as to be excited by external stimuli.
This machine would, I reasoned, perform its movements in the manner of a living being, for it would have all of the chief elements of the same. There was still the capacity for growth, propagation, and, above all, the mind which would be wanting to make the model complete. But growth was not necessary in this case since a machine could be manufactured full-grown, so to speak. As to capacity for propagation, it could likewise be left out of consideration, for in the mechanical model it merely signified a process of manufacture.
Whether the automaton be of flesh and bone, or of wood and steel, mattered little, provided it could perform all the duties required of it like an intelligent being. To do so it would have to have an element corresponding to the mind, which would effect the control of its movements and operations, and cause it to act, in any unforeseen case that might present itself, with knowledge, reason, judgement and experience. But this element I could easily embody in it by conveying to it my own intelligence, my own understanding. So this invention was evolved, and so a new art came into existence, for which the name "telautomatics" has been suggested, which means the art of controlling the movements and operations of distant automatons.
In order to give the automaton an individual identity it would be provided with a particular electrical tuning, Tesla explained, to which it alone would respond when waves of that particular frequency were sent from a control transmitting station; and other automatons would remain inactive until their frequency was transmitted. This was Tesla's fundamental radio tuning invention, the need for which other radio inventors had not yet
168
glimpsed although Tesla had described it publicly a half-dozen years earlier.
Tesla not only used in the control of his automaton the long waves now used in broadcasting—which are very different from the short waves used by Marconi and all others; for those could be interfered with by the imposition of an intervening object— but he was explaining the use, through his system of tuning, of the spectrum of allocations for individual stations that now appears on the dials of radio receiving sets. He continued:
By the simple means described the knowledge, experience, judgement—the mind, so to speak—of the distant operator were embodied in that machine, which was thus enabled to move and perform all of its operations with reason and intelligence. It behaved just like a blindfolded person obeying directions received through the ear.
The automatons so far constructed had "borrowed minds," so to speak, as each formed merely part of the distant operator who conveyed to it his intelligent orders; but this art is only in the beginning.
I purpose to show that, however impossible it may now seem, an Automaton may be contrived which will have its "own mind," and by this I mean that it will be able, independently of any operator, kit entirely to itself, to perform, in response to external influences affecting its sensitive organs, a great variety of acts and operations as if it had intelligence.
It will be able to follow a course laid out or to obey orders given far in advance; it will be capable of distinguishing between what it might and ought not to do, and of making experiences or, otherwise stated, of recording impressions which will definitely affect its subsequent actions. In fact I have already conceived such a plan.
Although I evolved this invention many years ago and explained it to my visitors very frequently in my laboratory demonstrations, it was not until much later, long after I had perfected it, that it became known, when, naturally enough, it gave rise to much discussion and to sensational reports.
But the true significance of this new art was not grasped by the majority, nor was the great force of the underlying principle recognized. As nearly as I could judge from the numerous comments which then appeared, the results I had obtained were considered as entirely impossible. Even the few who were disposed to admit the
169 practicability of the invention saw in it merely an automobile torpedo, which was to be used for the purpose of blowing up battleships, with doubtful success. . . .
But the art I have evolved does not contemplate merely the change of direction of a moving vessel; it affords means of absolutely controlling in every respect, all the innumerable translatory movements, as well as the operations of all the internal organs, no matter how many, of an individualized automaton.
Tesla, in an unpublished statement, prepared fifteen years later, recorded his experience in developing automata, and his unsuccessful effort to interest the War Department, and likewise commercial concerns, in his wirelessly controlled devices.
The idea of constructing an automaton, to bear out my theory, presented itself to me early but I did not begin active work until 1893, when I started my wireless investigations. During the succeeding two or three years, a number of automatic mechanisms, actuated from a distance by wireless control, were constructed by me and exhibited to visitors in my laboratory.
In 1896, however, I designed a complete machine capable of a multitude of operations, but the consummation of my labors was delayed until later in 1897. This machine was illustrated and described in my article in the Century Magazine of June 1900, and other periodicals of that time and, when first shown in the beginning of 1898, it created a sensation such as no other invention of mine has ever produced.
In November 1898, a basic patent on the novel art was granted to me, but only after the Examiner-in-Chief had come to New York and witnessed the performance, for what I claimed seemed unbelievable. I remember that when later I called on an official in Washington, with a view of offering the invention to the Government, he burst out in laughter upon my telling him what I had accomplished. Nobody thought then that there was the faintest prospect of perfecting such a device.
It is unfortunate that in this patent, following the advice of my attorneys, I indicated the control as being effected through the medium of a single circuit and a well-known form of detector, for the reason that I had not yet secured protection on my methods and apparatus for individualization. As a matter of fact, my boats were controlled through the joint action of several circuits and inter-
170 ference of every kind was excluded. Most generally I employed receiving circuits in the form of loops, including condensers, because the discharges of my high tension transmitter ionized the air in the hall so that even a very small aerial would draw electricity from the surrounding atmosphere for hours.
Just to give an idea, I found, for instance, that a bulb 12" in diameter, highly exhausted, and with one single terminal to which a short wire was attached, would deliver well on to one thousand successive flashes before all charge of the air in the laboratory was neutralized. The loop form of receiver was not sensitive to such a disturbance and it is curious to note that it is becoming popular at this late date. In reality it collects much less energy than the aerials or a long grounded wire, but it so happens that it does away with a number of defects inherent to the present wireless devices.
In demonstrating my invention before audiences, the visitors were requested to ask any questions, however involved, and the automaton would answer them by signs. This was considered magic at that time but was extremely simple, for it was myself who gave the replies by means of the device.
At the same period another larger telautomatic boat was constructed. It was controlled by loops having several turns placed in the hull, which was made entirely water tight and capable of submergence. The apparatus was similar to that used in the first with the exception of certain special features I introduced as, for example, incandescent lamps which afforded a visible evidence of the proper functioning of the machine and served for other purposes.
These automata, controlled within the range of vision of the operator, were, however, the first and rather crude steps in the evolution of the Art of Telautomatics as I had conceived it. The next logical improvement was its application to automatic mechanisms beyond the limits of vision and at great distances from the center of control, and I have ever since advocated their employments as instruments of warfare in preference to guns. The importance of his now seems to be recognized, if I am to judge from casual announcements through the press of achievements which are said to be extraordinary but contain no merit of novelty whatever.
In an imperfect manner it is practicable, with the existing wireless plants, to launch an aeroplane, have it follow a certain approximate course, and perform some operation at a distance of many hundreds of miles. A machine of this kind can also be mechanically controlled in several ways and I have no doubt that it may prove
171 of some usefulness in war. But there are, to my best knowledge, no instrumentalities in existence today with which such an object could be accomplished in a precise manner. I have devoted years of study to this matter and have evolved means, making such and greater wonders easily realizable.
As stated on a previous occasion, when I was a student at college I conceived a flying machine quite unlike the present ones. The underlying principle was sound but could not be carried into practice for want of a prime-mover of sufficiently great activity. In recent years I have successfully solved this problem and am now planning aerial machines devoid of sustaining planes, ailerons, propellers and other external attachments, which will be capable of immense speeds and are very likely to furnish powerful arguments for peace in the near future. Such a machine, sustained and propelled entirely by reaction, can be controlled either mechanically or by wireless energy. By installing proper plants it will be practicable to project a missile of this kind into the air and drop it almost on the very spot designated which may be thousands of miles away. But we are not going to stop at this.
Tesla is here describing—nearly fifty years ago—the radio controlled rocket, which is still a confidential development of World War II, and the rocket bombs used by the Germans to attack England. The rocket-type airship is a secret which probably died with Tesla, unless it is contained in his papers sealed by the Government at the time of his death. This, however, is unlikely, as Tesla, in order to protect his secrets, did not commit his major inventions to paper, but depended on an almost infallible memory for their preservation.
"Telautomata," he concluded, "will be ultimately produced, capable of acting as if possessed of their own intelligence and their advent will create a revolution. As early as 1898 I proposed to representatives of a large manufacturing concern the construction and public exhibition of an automobile carriage which, left to itself, would perform a great variety of operations involving something akin to judgment. But my proposal was deemed chimerical at that time and nothing came from it."
Tesla, at the Madison Square Garden demonstration in 1898
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which lasted for a week, presented to the world, then, two stupendous developments, either of which alone would have been too gigantic to have been satisfactorily assimilated by the public in a single presentation. Either one of the ideas dimmed the glory of the other.
This first public demonstration of wireless, the forerunner of modern radio, in the amazing stage of development to which Tesla carried it, at this early date, was too tremendous a project to be encompassed within a single dramatization. In the hands of a competent public-relations councillor, or publicity man, as he was called in those days (but the employment of one was utterly abhorrent to Tesla), this demonstration would have been limited to the wireless aspect alone, and would have included just a simple two-way sending-and-receiving set for the transmission of messages by the Morse dots and dashes. Suitably dramatized, this would have been a sufficient thrill for one show. At a subsequent show he could have brought in the tuning demonstration which would have shown the selective response of each of a series of coils, indicated by his strange-looking vacuum-tube lamps. The whole story of just the tuning of wireless circuits and stations to each other was too big for any one demonstration. An indication of its possibilities was all the public could absorb.
The robot, or automaton, idea was a new and an equally stupendous concept, the possibilities of which were not lost, however, on clever inventors; for it brought in the era of the modern labor-saving device—the mechanization of industry on a mass-production basis.
Using the Tesla principles, John Hays Hammond, Jr. developed an electric dog, on wheels, that followed him like a live pup. It was motor operated and controlled by a light beam through selenium cells placed behind lenses used for eyes. He also operated a yacht, entirely without a crew, which was sent out to sea from Boston harbor and brought back to its wharf by wireless control.
A manless airplane was developed toward the close of the
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First World War. It rose from the ground, flew one hundred miles to a selected target, dropped its bombs, and returned to home airport, all by wireless control. It was also developed so that on a signal from a distant radio station the plane would rise into the air, choose the proper direction, fly to a city hundreds of miles away and set itself down in the airport at that city. This Tesla-type robot was developed in the plant of the Sperry Gyroscope Company, where Elmer Sperry invented a host of amazing mechanical robots controlled by gyroscopes, such as the automatic pilots for airplanes and for ships.
All of the modern control devices using electronic tubes anal electric eyes that make machines seem almost human and enable them to perform with superhuman activity, dependability, accuracy and low cost, are children of Tesla's robot, or automaton The most recent development, in personalized form, was the mechanical man, a metal human monster giant, that walked, talked, smoked a cigarette, and obeyed spoken orders, in the exhibit of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company at the New York World's Fair. Robots have been used, is well, to operate hydroelectric powerhouses and isolated substations of powerhouses.
In presenting this superabundance of scientific discovery in a single demonstration, Tesla was manifesting the superman in an additional role that pleased him greatly—that of the man magnificent. He would astound the world with a superlative demonstration not only of the profundity of the accomplishments of the superman, but, in addition, of the prolific nature of the mind of the man magnificent who could shower on the world a super-abundance of scientific discoveries.
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ELEVEN
TESLA was now ready for new worlds to conquer. After pre- senting to the public his discoveries relating to wireless signaling or the transmission of intelligence, as he called it, Tesla was anxious to get busy on the power phase: his projected world-wide distribution of power by wireless methods.
Again Tesla was faced with a financial problem — or, to state the matter simply, he was broke. The $40,000 which was paid for the stock of the Nikola Tesla Company by Adams had been spent. The company had no cash on hand; but it held patents worth many millions if they had been handled in a practical way. A gift of $10,000 from John Hays Hammond, the famous mining engineer, had financed the work leading up to the Madison Square Garden wireless and robot demonstration.
175

RH-Dec 2010 – Although John J. O'Neill quotes Tesla, He's quoting him in 1898 using the word "robot" which wasn't coined until 1920 and came in active use by the late 1920's. He should have stayed with the word "automata".


The photos below are from my European trip with David Buckley in 2009.

See the story on the above replica model here.


The second, older model on show at the Tesla Museum.


A replica radio-controlled robot boat, in Tesla's native village of Smiljan, some 200 kilometers south of Zagreb, on 10 July 2006. Croatia and neighboring Serbia were marking the 150th anniversary of birth of Tesla.


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1942 – Waldo, Waldoes and Master Exoskeletons

Selective Timeline

1942 Robert Heinlein – Waldo

1943 – Deaton Puppet Animating Harness Patent

1948 GE Master-Slave Manipulator – John Payne

1948 Ray Goertz Master-Slave Manipulator

1953 Harvey Chapman – Garco

1954 Ray Goertz Electric Servo-Manipulator

1956 GE Yes Man – Exoskeleton Manipulator

1963 Science & Mechanics – "Waldo" as master-slave manipulators

1963 Rogers et al / Disney – Patent for Animating Apparatus

1990 WaldoTM The Character Shop


1942 – Robert Heinlein – Waldo

Waldo (1942) is a short story by Robert A. Heinlein originally published in Astounding Magazine in August 1942 under the pseudonym Anson MacDonald (see cover image by Hubert Rogers above). It is available in the book Waldo & Magic, Inc., as well as other collections.

{Note: In Heinlein's book Waldo, it has a copyright date of 1940 as well as 1942. )

From wikipedia – The essence of the story is the journey of a mechanical genius from his self-imposed exile from the rest of humanity to a more normal life, conquering the disease myasthenia gravis as well as his own contempt for humans in general. The key to this is that magic is loose in the world, but in a logical and scientific way.

Waldo Farthingwaite-Jones was born a weakling, unable even to lift his head up to drink or to hold a spoon. Far from destroying him, this channeled his intellect, and his family's money, into the development of the device patented as "Waldo F. Jones' Synchronous Reduplicating Pantograph". Wearing a glove and harness, Waldo could control a much more powerful mechanical hand simply by moving his hand and fingers. This and other technologies he develops make him a rich man, rich enough to build a home in space.

In the story, these devices became popularly known as "waldoes". In reference to this story, the real-life remote manipulators that were later developed also came to be called waldoes.

Robert A. Heinlein claims a much earlier origin for remote manipulators.[1] He wrote that he got the idea for "waldos" after reading a 1918 article in Popular Mechanics about "a poor fellow afflicted with myasthenia gravis … [who] devised complicated lever arrangements to enable him to use what little strength he had."

[ReubenH-I've searched high and low for the quoted 1918 PM article, going through every page even for the years 1917-19 and never found it.]

1.   Heinlein, Robert A.  (1957), "Science fiction: its nature, faults and virtues", in Davenport, Basil, The Science Fiction Novel, Chicago: Advent, 1959

Various extracts from the book:

"Waldo put his arms into the primary pair before him; all three pairs, including the secondary pair before the machine, came to life. Waldo flexed and extended his fingers gently; the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism. "
——

This invention, also called the Waldo F. Jones Synchronous Reduplicating Pantograph, was immediately put into use in the nascent nuclear power industry.

In the story, Heinlein plays around with the idea. He considers waldoes that are so small, they look like "tiny pixy hands, an inch across." He also describes some very large waldoes: There were waldoes rigged near the spherical wall, too, including a pair so huge that Stevens could not conceive a use for it… Extended, each hand spread quite six feet from little finger to thumb tip.

———-

During World War II, Heinlein did aeronautical engineering for the U.S. Navy, also recruiting Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp to work at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Pennsylvania.



"… Neither electromagnetic instruments nor neural surgery was refined enough to do accurate work on the levels he wished to investigate.
But he had waldoes.
The smallest waldoes he had used up to this time were approximately half an inch across their palms–with micro scanners to match, of course. They were much too gross for his purpose. …
He used the waldoes to create tinier ones. …
His final team of waldoes used for nerve and brain surgery varied in succeeding stages from mechanical hands nearly life size down to these fairy digits which could manipulate things much too small for the eye to see. They were mounted in bank to work in the same locus. Waldo controlled them all from the same primaries; he could switch from one size to another without removing his gauntlets. The same change in circuits which brought another size of waldoes under control automatically accomplished the change in sweep of scanning to increase or decrease the magnification so that Waldo always saw before him in his stereo receiver a “life-size” image of his other hands."

————-
"Even the  ubiquitous and grotesquely humanoid gadgets known universally as 'waldoes'-Walso F. Jones's Synchronous Reduplication Pantograph, Pat. #296,001,437, new series, et  al-passed through several generations of development and private use in Waldo's machine shop before he redesigned them for mass production… Near the man, mounted on the usual stand, were a pair of primary waldoes, elbow length and digited. They were  floating on the line, in parallel with a similar pair in front of Waldo. the secondary waldoes, whose actions would be controlled by Waldo himself by means of his primaries, were mounted in front of the power tool in the position of the operator…(pp24, 26)


1948 GE Master-Slave Manipulator – John Payne

Patent number: 2476249 (see here)
Filing date: Nov 24, 1948
Issue date: Jul 1949


1948 Ray Goertz Master-Slave Manipulator

(Developed in 1948 – patent filed in 1949)

Patent number: 2632574 (see here)
Filing date: Dec 16, 1949
Issue date: Mar 1953


1953 Harvey Chapman – Garco

Garco – Harvey Chapman Jr., 1953.

Patent number: 2858947 (see pdf here)
Filing date: Nov 16, 1953
Issue date: Nov 1958

The push-buttons, as indicated on the drawing below, operation the following:
for the left slave arm
31 – 32: Move arm away or toward the body
33 – 34: Swinging movement forward or back
35 – 36: Bending of Elbow up or down
37 – 38: Rotate joint above the elbow in the right or left hand direction 
40 – 41: Rotate wrist in the right or left hand direction 
42 – 43: Open or close the claw
for the right slave arm
44 – 45: Open or close the claw
Other buttons were added for the swiveling of the eyes and moving of the jaw.

The control arm of the master-slave unit pre-dates the harness used by the Disney Imagineers for their Audio-Animatronics by 10 years. Were they inspired by what they saw back then in MARS AND BEYOND (DISNEY, 1957)?

Mars & Beyond is an episode of Disneyland (The History and Future of Man and Space) which aired on December 4, 1957. It was directed by Ward Kimball & narrated by Paul Frees. This episode discusses the possibility of life on other planets, especially Mars. It begins with an introduction of Walt Disney & his robot friend Garco, who provide a brief overview.


1954 Ray Goertz Servo-Manipulator

The significance of this model is that the electrical connection rather than a mechanical connection allowed a much larger distance between the master and slave components.

Patent number: 2846084
Filing date: Jun 21, 1955
Issue date: Aug 1958 


1956 GE Yes Man 

An early, if not the first, master-slave manipulator to employ an Exoskeleton Master. (see post here)


1963 Rogers / Disney – Patent for Animating Apparatus

Wathel L. Rogers, Herbert B. Taylor, and Roger E. Broggie.

Patent number: 3277594 – Animating Apparatus (see here)
Filing date: Nov 1, 1963
Issue date: Oct 1966

Originally named General Electric Carousel of Progress, the show was personally created by Walt Disney for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. It played at Disneyland theme park in California from July 2, 1967 until September 9, 1973. The show next moved to Magic Kingdom theme park in Florida where it opened on January 15, 1975. In 1994, the show was rewritten and restaged with the new name Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress.

Wathel Rogers operating the "animating apparatus".


1963 Science & Mechanics – "Waldo" as master-slave manipulators

An early reference to "Waldo" as a Master-Slave Manipulator –  (Science & Mechanics Feb 1963). 

Some more "waldo" book references (from answers)

1957 R. Silverberg One-Way Journey World of Thousand Colors (1984) № 131: We make a good team on the waldoes.

  1969 A.C. Clarke 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969) Discovery's extravehicular capsules or "space pods" were spheres about nine feet in diameter, and the operator sat behind a bay window which gave him a splendid view. The main rocket drive produced an acceleration of one-fifth of a gravity—just sufficient to hover on the Moon—while small attitude-control nozzles allowed for steering. From an area immediately beneath the bay window sprouted two sets of articulated metal arms or "waldoes," one for heavy duty, the other for delicate manipulation. There was also an extensible turret carrying a variety of power tools, such as screwdrivers, jack-hammers, saws, and drills. Space pods were not the most elegant means of transport devised by man, but they were absolutely essential for construction and maintenance work in vacuum. They were usually christened with feminine names, perhaps in recognition of the fact that their personalities were sometimes slightly unpredictable. Discovery's trio were Anna, Betty, and Clara.  Once he had put on his personal pressure suit—his last line of defense—and climbed inside the pod, Poole spent ten minutes carefully checking the controls. He burped the steering jets, flexed the waldoes, reconfirmed oxygen, fuel, power reserve.

1973 J. Tiptree, Jr. Girl Who Was Plugged In Screwtop/Girl Who Was Plugged In (1989) № 18: But Delphi is no robot. Call her a waldo if you must. The fact is she's just a girl, a real live girl with her brain in an unusual place.

1978 D.A. Stanwood Memory of Eva Ryker № 30: The bathyscaphs are both equipped with remote manipulators — the experts call them "Waldos" — for working under the extreme pressure.

1982 W. Gibson Burning Chrome T. Shippey Oxford Book of SF (1992) № 500: I was working late in the loft one night, shaving down a chip, my arm off and the little waldo jacked straight into the stump.

1987 T. Easton Analog SF/Sci. Fact (Sept.) № 165/1: In Pohl's case, the aliens are using humans as organic waldoes that permit them to meet and bargain for Earth's wealth, and the humans be damned.

1993 K.S. Robinson Red Mars (1993) № 373: We're like dwarves in a waldo […]. One of those really big waldo excavators. We're inside it and supposed to be moving a mountain, and instead of using the waldo capabilities we're leaning out of a window and digging with teaspoons.

1996 D. Pringle, et al. Ultimate Ency. of SF № 106/3: The climax comes when Ripley, clad in waldo-ized battle gear, takes on head-to-head the queen of the alien hive in a dazzling set-piece.


1990 – The Character Shop – WaldoTM

The USPTO has given the WALDO trademark serial number of 74090309. The current federal status of this trademark filing is REGISTERED AND RENEWED.
Filing Date:  8/22/1990
The WALDO trademark is filed in the category of Computer & Software Products & Electrical & Scientific Products . The description provided to the USPTO for WALDO is special effects equipment in the nature of an ergonomic telerobotic control device.

Waldo was a generic, commonly used term for puppet and animatronic control devices that was used by a variety of different companies and organizations including the Muppets until it was appropriated and registered as a trademark by the Character Shop, a California-based creature effects company. Because of this, while the use of waldo-like devices is widespread in puppetry and visual effects, The Character Shop is the only company in the United States permitted to use the name "Waldo" commercially for puppet control devices.

From http://www.character-shop.com/waldo.html –

The term was first used in a Robert Heinlein short story, which was about a disabled scientist named Waldo who managed to build devices that would amplify his strength. These "waldoes" went on to replicate bigger machines, and so on. At least that's the way I remember it happened. NASA scientists nicknamed some of their early telemetry systems "waldo", and when the rare telemetry device popped up, sometimes that caught the nickname.

"When we started pioneering the use of telemetric input devices for puppetry, we researched the name "Waldo" with the trademark registry. It had never been officially appropriated; no one had ever gone to market with telemetry devices, called them waldoes, and trademarked it. So, The Character Shop applied for and received the trademark for its line of input devices. Now, we've been accused of ripping Mr. Heinlein off; that's far from the case. We obtained the trademark with utter respect, and in an homage to Mr. Heinlein. Mr. Heinlein wrote a work of fiction, and a character in the story was named Waldo. One cannot copyright the name of a fictional character in literature, unless, perhaps it originates with the author. Mr. Heinlein was not intending to market telemetry devices, he was writing a science fiction story. So there was no need or reason for him to trademark the name. Just as Asimov popularized the term "robot", Mr. Heinlein has an inspirational claim to the term."


Comment: RH Dec 2010 – regarding Trade Marking the word "Waldo", I feel that The Creature Shop have undergone some criticism over doing so. My initial reaction was similarly negative. However, the bigger concern is that a coined word in public use was able to be Trade Marked in the first place. Given that situation, it is more fitting that a company such as The Creature Shop has it, over another that may not be as appropriate or fitting at all.

My personal feeling is that , like some patents, one should get the credit for whatever it is, then put it in the public domain. I don't know how you would do that for Trade Marks. I know in the .com era things went crazy over common words, symbols, etc that could be and were Trade Marked. Sometimes common sense doesn't prevail.


Cover by Hubert Rogers.

"Amazing Stories" September 1952 cover by Walter Robert Popp showing Mechanical Master-Slave Manipulators.. Story by Paul W. Fairman.


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Early Robot Enabling Technologies

The entry is significant in that it highlights the technologies of the time that enabled most of the early electric animals, mechanical men then later the robots to be operated remotely by sound, light, or radio waves. This technology and underlying principles influenced these machines for at least 50 years.

The technology is studied in detail in Miessner's book on "Radiodynamics", 1916 and is downloadable from here.

It all started with Ernest Wilson, and then the first practical example was Nicola Tesla's Teleautomaton.

from Radiodynamics p83-4

In the year 1897, when wireless telegraphy was still in its infancy, Ernest Wilson, an Englishman, was granted a British patent on a system for the wireless control of dirigible, selfpropelled vessels. The primary object of this invention was to provide a weapon for use in naval warfare, which, if in the form of a dirigible torpedo, controlled from a shore or ship wireless installation, would be most deadly in its effect on a hostile fleet. No mention has been found of actual apparatus constructed according to Wilson's plans.
To Nikola Tesla, probably more than to any other investigator, belongs the credit of first constructing a dirigible vessel which could be controlled from a distance without connecting wires. His experiments were begun in 1892 and from that time on he exhibited a number of wirelessly-directed contrivances in his laboratory at 35 South Fifth Avenue, New York City. In 1897 he constructed a complete automaton in the form of a boat (Figs. 40, 41 and 42), which would steer itself in obedience to guiding impulses of Hertzian waves sent out from shore.
On Nov. 8, 1898, he was granted a United States patent on this invention. In this patent he mentions the use of all forms of control energy including electromagnetic induction, electrostatic induction, conduction through earth, water, and the upper atmoshphere, and all forms of pure radiant energy.

There is book that describes the construction of some of these early technologies for remote control and that is "Ray Controlled Mechanism" by Major Raymond Phillips c1926.

Another book, which I don't have a copy of, is titled "High Voltage Fun" by CUTTING & SONS 102 Doe Street, Campbell, California c1932. It has an article that describes how to "Make a robot sing, dance, answer questions, amuse any audience."

Although Miessner gives considerable detail on the radio aspects, I will offer a very simple explanation of the collective technoly to early remote control of robots.

Most electrical mechanical men, automatons, and robots all go through a series of actions or commands. The number of actions increases with the sophistication of the technology and "one-upmanship" i.e. each new inventor had to have his contrivance outperform his predecessors or the current competition.

The commands are selected by an electro-mechanical device called a selector. The activation of a solenoid levers a ratchet and pawl mechanism. Selectors are rotary and there are electrical contact points wherever the selector action stops. The electrical contacts on the selector connnect up the circuit for the command "selected". These days we would call it sequential, or procedural programming. The order of the commands is all important, to support  the choreographed routine of the robot .  Deft operators of the time could trigger the selector to advance to the next command before that command had time to operate, effectively "skipping" over the unwanted command(s).

As we have seen already, the catch cries of the times were "Remote Control " , "Wireless Control " , "Sound Control", "Voice Control" and "Light Control", all under the auspices of "Ray Control".

Light Control :

It is all based upon the fact that the mineral selenium, which is not normally a conductor, becomes a conductor of electricity as soon as a ray of light falls upon it. As soon as light rays may be focussed upon the cell the selenium closes the circuit to the polarized relay and in turn closes the circuit to the selective device. 

Radio Control (aka Hertzian waves) :

An aerial is hooked up to a device called a coherer which is in circuit with a polarized relay. Each time the key of a radio sending set (eg a Ouiden coil) is depressed, the coherer completes a circuit which will work in the same manner as when operated by flashes of light upon the selenium cell.

Sound Control :

This can be as simple as a length of wire that vibrates when sound waves come in contact with it. At a set point, the amplitude of the wire will be great enough to make contact with another pre-set point and complete the circuit.

I have various example to illustrate these with and will update this post over time. It may even become a category in its own right. I have articles on Selenium cell, light-control, voice-control (pre-Westinghouse Televox), and later ultra-sonics.