1965 – “Mr. Obos” the Robot – Lou Nasti (American)

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1965 – "Mr. Obos" the Robot by Lou Nasti (upper right).

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New York Times, March 20, 1965 – By PHILIP H. DOUGHERTY – Print Headline: "So What Else Is New? A Robot Makes Debut on Flatbush Ave."

So What Else Is New? A Robot Makes Debut on Flatbush Ave.

ROBOT IN RESIDENCE: Mr. Obos blinks his many lights at the electronic direction of his inventor, Louis Nasti, in the basement of the Nasti apartment house in Flatbush. Besides blinking, robot walks, talks and moves arms.

The other fellows around East 38th Street and Flatbush Avenue have had a pretty busy winter, what with shooting pool at Cannon's, going to dances and all that.
But where has Louis Nasti been? He's been in the basement of the Styling by Silhouette beauty parlor every free minute, and what he's been doing has really become a neighborhood topic. No wonder, for how many fellows are building 6-foot 5-inch, copper-colored robots around Flatbush Avenue these days?
Mr. Obos (he's the robot) was showing off the other night in the basement of 1866 Flatbush Avenue that he shares with a furnace. Nineteen-year-old, 5-foot 4-inch Louis was at the lecternlike, 23-switch control panel as Mr. Obos, in a deep, taped voice, ticked off his physical assets.
"I can do 11 different things." bragged Mr. Obos, antenna twirling as blue eyes and red nose blinked.
"He's great," interrupted Mrs. Marie Nasti, her plump 5-foot frame unable to hold all of her pride. It was not clear whether she was speaking of her son, the inventor, or the invention.
"There are 100 lights outlining my body and 475 feet of running wire from the back of my leg to my controls," continued Mr. Obos with some satisfaction.
Mr. Obos's chin flapped and torso spun in half circles on its marble-mounted waistline as nine little electric motors whirred silently.

"It comes apart in five pieces," young Louis said, leaping to open Mr. Obos's right ankle where a 21-foot power-bearing cable enters the body. The wires are connected to a cable, the cable is connected to a switch panel, the panel is connected to an outlet — oh hear the word of Con Ed.
"It looks sharp in the dark." said young Louis, a thin, well-dressed young man with wavy black hair, interrupting both his mother and Mr. Obos.
Louis explained that he built the robot for the employees' hobby show at Abraham & Straus, where he is in home furnishings display. "They really like me there." he said. Louis has also built a coffinlike box for Mr. Obos and plans to move him to the store today.
Upstairs in the Nastis' three-room apartment (father Attilion was still at work), Louis talked of some of the other thing's he has built, including a robot who did the twist.
"When I was at Midwood High School (he was graduated in 1963) I built a rocket and a radar interceptor—had two airplanes take off and actually collide in the classroom." he said.
Now that Mr. Obos, who got his name from Sobos glue, is finished and all the papier-mache in place and painted on its body of five-gallon oil cans, Louis feels let down. "I went down to the cellar and just sat and looked at him last night." he said.
But he has future plans. "I think," Louis said, "I'll build a family of robots-remote controlled with radio waves-that look like soldiers, not robots." There was a faraway look in his eyes.

Thanks to Lou Nasti and colleague Bob Kovacs in providing the New York Times article.


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Lou Nasti, looking rather like Disney's Geppetto, set up his animated display's business in 1969 and is still going strong. See Animated Displays Inc.

He has a robot called Rodney.

Comment source: here. c2013.

Lou Nasti is famous for his animated window displays. His work is very amiable and seems like it appeals to the younger audience, however can be a fun experience for all ages. Enjoyment and entertainment is found everywhere in his displays. His “Santa’s workshop” can be found in Brooklyn commonly known as Lou Nasti’s Brooklyn company, Mechanical Displays Inc. He is well known for creating displays that have holiday themes and bring out the fantasy in every holiday, such as Santa Claus and his elves. These famous displays can mainly be found in department stores such as Macy’s.

His famous career started as a teenager when he started as a window dresser. His fame up roared when he created a talking and walking robot. His work is amazing and is viewed by many every year. However the main obstacle for Lou Nasti every year is putting up a Christmas tree in his own home. Despite this obstacle, he still creates the best displays filled with imagination. His displays circulate around the country, that’s how good he is.

Another important obstacle that not only Lou Nasti faces but department stores face is online shopping and how it has affected businesses in stores. It’s up to Lou Nasti to work night and day to change this and help boost up this line of work. His theme seems to be “bigger is better.” Lou Nasti continues to work hard, recently creating a huge children’s train ride through a sprawling peppermint forest for the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky. However, his foremost project is to create a life sized theme park named Nasti Land.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.


1954 – “Sylvania Sam” Promotional Robot – (American)

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1954 – "Sylvania Sam" Promotional Robot.

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The "Sylvania Sam" Promotional Robot was a 9-foot tall talking "electronic" robot that tells you all about pink "Softlight" bulbs.

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See other early Humanoid Robots here.


1957 – “Mr. Fantastic” Robot – Andy Frain Jr. (American)

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1957 – "Mr. Fantastic" Ushering Robot by Andy Frain Jr..

A tape recorder replays the ushering commentary via a speaker in 'his' chest. 'His' right toe has a sensor that counts the passing crowd.

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An interesting anecdote about Andy Frain, Jr.

Source: The San Bernardino County, May 21 1954.

Runs $1 Million Firm
His Pay: $15 a Week
Chicago (UP) – Andy Frain, Jr., 20, who is running the family's million-dollar ushering business during his father's illness, makes more money at it than rumored.
Asked to comment on reports his allowance was only $10 a week he replied: "Actually, it's about $15."


See other early Pseudo and Fake Robots here.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.


1971 – Model 2004 Maze-Solving Computer – Richard Browne (American)

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Source: Xenia Daily Gazette Mon, May 24, 1971

Computerized mouse maze first of 3 long-term projects for Xenian.

by Ward Pimley – Gazette staff writer

To a research psychologist, running a mouse through a maze to investigate behavior patterns is a common occurrence. But to an electronic engineering drawing specialist who wants to simulate the test, various alterations must be made.
Richard Browne, a drawing specialist in his seventh year with Systems Research Laboratories, Inc. (SRL), has recently finished a lengthy project designed to propel a wooden mouse through a maze with directions being supplied by a computer. He resides at 2004 Tahoe Dr.
COMMONLY, referred to as cybernetics, the system constructed by Browne uses a computer attachment which receives data from the mouse as to its location and the presence or absence of barriers, The computer then tells the mouse which direction to move based upon the data. While the mouse is searching for its "cheese," a metal block which short circuits the electric charge upon contact, the computer is storing in its "memory" information pertaining to the maze; that is, where the alley blocks are and what routes are beneficial to the mouse's search for the goal.
CYBERNETICS is a branch of science which mechanically and electronically attempts to reproduce the human thinking process into machines. Browne's computer, designed to comply with this principle, is programmed to receive information from the mouse, "analyze" the situation, then direct the mouse on its journey. The mouse, one-inch creature carved from balsa wood, has two copper whiskers which signal the computer when the mouse has bumped into a maze barrier.
Directional information is then sent back to the mouse whereupon an electromagnet beneath the aluminum maze moves the mouse in the direction indicated. The electromagnet is driven by two one tenth horsepower engines which control both north-south and east-west movements of the mouse.
THE COMPUTER, 600 pounds of wires and relays, has the capability of processing both partial and total accumulations of "knowledge." The partial knowledge refers to the store of information regarding the squares in which the mouse has investigated, while the total accumulation is the computer's memory of the correct path the mouse should take to solve the maze. After the mouse has found the goal, it may be placed anywhere along the proper path and it will move directly to the goal without either making detours or bumping into alley walls. There is an exploration strategy which the mouse follows, Browne explained, every time it enters a square. Five steps are involved, all occurring within one-tenth of a second. The procedure is repetitive and designed so that the mouse will examine all possible avenues of escape from a square. If the mouse should encounter a wall in one direction, it then turns 90 degrees clockwise. If there is no wall in that direction, the mouse will exit the square. Otherwise, it will turn again to check a new direction. There are 25 squares on the maze with removable walls for reshaping the maze. Browne, said there are 873 duodecillion/(873 followed by 12 zeroes) solvable maze patterns possible in his operation. Should the mouse solve one million maze patterns per second (clearly an impossible task), it would take the mouse 2.7 septillion (seven zeros) centuries to solve all possibilities, Browne said.
THE PROJECT took Browne 10 years to complete, working on and off, he said. The idea for the maze came from a May 1955 issue of Popular Mechanics where an article was printed about a man who had completed such a project. Browne decided to duplicate the feat, although he designed and constructed the computer by himself. While Browne built his unit with spare parts, he said that a computer and maze constructed from new parts (and including labor costs) would cost about $15,000. The present project is completed, Browne said, except for a couple of minor improvements to be made. One of these is to put wheels on the mouse to facilitate easier movements. The other is to replace the magnet in the mouse with a stronger one so that the mouse will not escape from the electromagnet's pull from under the table.

However, Browne is not quitting his dabbling with home made electronic projects. He presently has in mind two further projects to operate from the computer he has already built. One of these is a model railroad, which Browne estimates will take him 15 years to complete (working on and off of course). The other is an electromagnetic calculator which will perform complicated mathematics.

Man's creative urge, it seems, still lives in Richard Browne.


See other early Maze Solving Machines & Robots here.


 

1953 – Tobor the Robot – Dave Ballard (American)

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From the "Captain Video" TV serial, the "I, Tobor" episodes starting the week of November 2, 1953.

Tobor (played by 7' 6" Dave Ballard) was a prototype robot designed to be a tireless worker and indestructible soldier. It bore the inscription "I-TOBOR" (a reversed image of ROBOT-I) on its chest plate.

Tobor's body featured a cylindrical manlike form, rockets mounted on its back; an antenna sprouting skywards from each shoulder; a triangular flap of metal on its chest containing a lens which shot a death ray; and activation by voice commands via a pocket-sized device attuned to the vocal frequency of its controller. Tobor also had giant claw pincers as hands.

Tobor was originally designed as a force for good in the universe, until Atar, a villainous female reset the robot's voice circuits to obey only her commands. Now in control of the powerful robot, Atar set out to conquer the solar system.

Tobor was finally rendered harmless when Captain Video, matching Atar's vocal frequency, sent conflicting commands to Tobor and disrupted its circuitry.

Months later (due to popular demand) Tobor was reactivated but this time under the guidance of Captain Video's voice. A video monitor was built into his metallic naval for closed circuit communication.

In a later episode, an evil scientist stole Tobor's blueprints and created a duplicate Tobor. A colossal battle of good vs. evil ensued with Tobor fighting his evil twin.

Tobor the robot was prominently featured in serial episodes: "I, Tobor" (1953);  "The Return of Tobor the Robot (1954); and "Dr. Pauli's Planet" (1955).

Sources: TVAcres and Danefield.com/alpha.


The Merkin Marvel

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Image source: Good Housekeeping, Oct, 1955.

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Image source: The Space Age Museum.


Dave Ballard – the actor giant.

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Picture Source: The Tallest Man

Text Source: The Daily News, Huntington and Mount Union, PA. Monday December 21, 1953.

TV News by F. Glenn Westbrook.
In case anyone didn't know, there's a man inside the robot on the TV "Captain Video" series. He's a fellow called Dave Ballard, a 7-foot 8-inch giant. His trouble as a TV actor is that there aren't enough roles for giants.


Tobor Trivia:

  1. Its been said that Tobor is the first robot to appear in a TV series, beginning the week of November 2, 1953. It should be noted that the earlier robots from Captain Video were from a film serial, not TV.   To my knowledge, the Superman TV serial had the first robot – Adventures of Superman: Season 1, Episode 17, The Runaway Robot (9 Jan. 1953).
  2. Other forums suggest the reason why the robot is called Tobor is due to a stencil being cut on the wrong side, hence reversed in its application. As we haven't seen an image of Tobor with his name emblazoned on his chest, this cannot be confirmed yet.
  3. A different looking robot appeared in the earlier 1951 film serial Captain Video Master of the Stratosphere and first appeared in Chapter 3 "Captain Video's Peril".
  4. The 1954 movie "Tobor the Great" was a different robot as well.

Note: Mon Jan 18, 2016, Peter Milo contacted me:-

Hi. I ran across your article regarding Tobor from the Captain Video show. I remember the first episode quite vividly: The stencil was accidentally reversed when the name was painted. Hence: I TOBOR

I also had the good fortune of meeting the entire cast in person and got to see the actual filming of an episode at the DuMont studio  (my dad was a mounted cop in that area and had many friends along his beat).   Al Hodges was really a friendly individual, as was the rest of the crew. I left the studio that evening with a bunch of Powerhouse candy bars. LOL

Hi Peter,
Thanks for confirming the stencil story. Do you recall TOBOR as having large claws as hands? Cheers, Reuben Hoggett.

Hello, Reuben. Thanks again for creating such an informative sight. Tobor had large pincer claws, which greatly added to his overall menace. A model robot, which really didn’t resemble Tobor, was used for his space travel scenes. I remember my friends debating this anomaly; they finally chalked it up to poor photography in outer space.    The episode with the rock monsters was being telecast on the evening I visited the studio. I remember being quite surprised by the special effects (a couple technicians were lying on the floor, pulling ropes). When I glanced up at the monitor, it seemed that the large rocks were moving on their own. Really cool stuff.  Best Regards, Peter Milo.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.

See other early Pseudo and Fake Robots here.