1849 – Flute-Playing Automaton – Innocenzo Manzetti (Italian)


1849 – Flute-Playing Automaton by Innocenzo Manzetti.





A comparison photo above showing the Flautist's size with a real person.

In 1849  Innocenzo Manzetti constructed a flute-playing automaton, in the shape of a man, life-size, seated on a chair. Hidden inside the chair were levers, connecting rods and compressed air tubes, which made the automaton's lips and fingers move on the flute according to a program recorded on a cylinder similar to those used in player pianos. The automaton was powered by clockwork and could perform 12 different arias. As part of the performance it would rise from the chair, bow its head, and roll its eyes.

Innocenzo Manzetti

Later he managed to get his automaton to play any piece performed by a musician on an organ by muting the organ's keys and connecting them to the automaton's fingers. A complex automaton was described in the same 1865 news article that described Manzetti's telephone. It is claimed he also built, as a toy for his daughter, a wooden flying parrot which would beat its wings then, reportedly, rise into the air and hover for two or three minutes before settling on a shelf.

Curiosity of Science, Le Petit Journal, November 22, 1865, No.1026, p.3 (bottom). ]

See other early Musical Automatons here.

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