1954 – SABOR V – Peter Steuer / Eric Lanz [1961-9] – (Swiss)

Queen Juliana opens Holland's Flower Show in 1955. SABOR greets her and she accepts a gift of flowers from him.

See Video clip here.
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Location: Harlem, Holland
Date: 07/07/1955 
Length: 41 secs 
Story Number: 63983
Description: Queen Juliana performed the opening ceremony at the centenary of a famous Dutch Exhibition. Her Majesty's bouquet was presented to her by a Robot.
Shot List: CU of Queen Juliana and party. GV of exhibition. Queen opens gate. Robot presents flowers. Robot shakes hands with the Queen.

SABOR exhibit building in Brussels World Exhibition, 1958.

One of the last modifications made was to inlude light control via photo-cells. The flashing torch corresponding to the rotary dial.

Peter Steuer with SABOR V c1960.

SABOR V in Kassell, c1967.

SABOR had his fair share of pretty women!

Peter Steuer with SABOR on the liner "Rotterdam" on their way to New York – May, 1961.

Flash light control was put in place by Eric Lanz for the American trip.

SABOR V lights a cigarette for "Rotterdam" captain, Commodore Coenraad Bouman.

SABOR V went on tour to Israel.

SABOR with Joachim Kulenkampff.

Brochure: Courtesy Barbara Douvalakis, Peter Steuer's daughter.

Spare parts used to maintain SABOR when on a tour, now at the EBM Museum in Switzerland.

Transcription of emails I had with Eric Lanz from Jan-Feb 2008.

RH: I would like to know all the functions Sabor V can perform. i.e. walk, wink, head tilts forward?, smokes, raises arm, twists wrist, bend elbow, steers left/right?

EL: The basic functions are as follows:
Dancing backwards and forward movements,smoking via a vaccum pump,cigarette in
the hand,shooting a pistol, moving arms up and down, head turning left /right, eyes
open/shut and blinking. Sabor could not turn only straight walking forward or

RH: I would also be interested in getting a description of the visible components ie where they are located and what they do ie the two meters in the middle of his chest, telephone dial, head functions, the number of radio-control channels, etc
EL: Controls:
Basic all functions via telefon dial i.e. dial 11 and he would walk etc,remote control via
handset or remote station.Voice and lip movements when talking only via remote station.
Radio controlled (function identical of model aeroplane). Voice over Short wave or later
FM modulation.

RH: Does he have an inbuilt voice/vocabulary, what remote control features are there, is there an automatic mode or not?
EL: My functions:
Maintain service and repair,transport to and from places of display,i.e United States in
1961,when in shows I was hidden away on a remote location i.e behind curtain or other nearby room,I would hear what Peter was asking Sabor and I would make the functions via remote station with dialling and voice. I speak French, English, German, Italien and Spanish…..I also had a dictonary at my station in case some more tricky questions needed an anwser.
The voice was picked up by a microphone inside Sabor and my voice via a microphone
at the base Station.On the main Aluminium Chest where 2 nipples which could be removed giving access to the frequency adjust for signal and Voice.
Relays, each function had its own relay, 4 batteries 2 in each leg gave it the stabilizing
weight and power.There was an AC converter for AC functions,drive motors where DC powerd,other function where clutch chain driven.
The Radio and remote functions where AC powerd with a two way channel function.
Peter(owner) asked "Sabor……..how are you……". I replied "not too good have a
cold……sneeze….". Now often the voice frequency needed adjusting, that is when he put
his hand in through the chest to adjust (Applaus and laughter from the spectators)
Usualy we where booked by an Agent…..Store, Theater, Show, Fair and Fairgrounds,but also a 6 months Tour of the US including TV apperance NBC New York,Various shows and commercial venues…

[late January 2008].

Further  Questions :

RH: Who was Bobby Lugano anf Paul Watensberger?

EL: Bobby Lugano was a Conferancie or demonstrator known in the Swiss and Austrian area. He would present the Robot if Peter Steuer was not present.
I believe Watensberger was an engineer from Basel who worked with Peter Steuer in the early days. He would do the functions behind the closed door or curtains during the early days, prior to my engagement.

RH: Sabor always wore a watch, maybe because we was Swiss? I'm guessing that one of the routines was for Sabor to look at the watch and tell the time.

EL: The presenter during a show would say "tell me the time Sabor" the remote station would then activate the corresponding Number, the arm would bend and move towards the head, once there the head would tilt towards the arm and I would respond over the microphone the time. The same would happen if he ask to give the lady a light, a corresponding number would activate the lighter, same with the pistol.
PS.Sabor was also smoking a cigarette, via an air bag in the center which would inhale and exit the smoke via a tube inside the mouth.

RH: Do you know anything about Sabor III & IV?
EL: I dont know too much about Sabor III or IV.

I sent Eric a video clip of Sabor IV  [British Pathe]

ER: What a wonderful shot of film of Sabor.
The Film shows Sabor IV, which I did not work on at the time because I joined in the 1960's only.
I made the modification for Sabor V, although we used the basic shell and some mechanics and electrics from his "Brother".

RH: How long were you with Sabor?
EL: I was with Sabor 1961-1969 then joined the aviation engineering……

RH: Did the shows stop when Peter died?
EL: Yes the shows stop prior to his death and Sabor was banished in to his Garage, where it was eventually given by his wife to the [EBM] Museum.

EL: The 2 smaller brothers Niko where shipped to the US. Niko was a fixed Robot slightly smaller the an adult, fixed on a platform and a hidden taperecorder was built inside of him. Prerecorded messages came from his lips an activated as soon as you removed a piece of information (sheet) out of his hand, usally telling people about the shows program. He would then reach in to his attached box and pick up a new paper.

RH: Roughly how many hours operation on a single charge of batteries?
EL: Batteries where charged up after each performance to make sure of good operation, we had of course plenty of spares (we carried everything in a small campertrailer)

EL: The remote control is not the one of your picture that was the old one and very unreliable.

RH: You say that Sabor could not turn. Does that mean there was a lot of man-handling of him? ie did you have to push him around a lot?
EL: Sabor could turn but we used it as little as possible, principle like a tank- stop one side and he would move slighty to the side…..the actual Robot was mostly on a stage and
did hardly any walking at all.

RH: When you use the telephone dial, you said what '11' was. On a dial '11' is two '1's ?  so the control unit then recognised when you had finished dialling?
EL: When dialling, again principal was like a phone dial after the Number was dialled the action was transmitted via a phone selector relay then to the relay and finaly the

RH: Was Sabor shipped as a single unit, or was he dis-assembled for transporting?
EL: Sabor was dismantled by me, head removed, batteries removed then put on a stretcher with wheels and the placed inside the transporter trailer.

RH: With you skill in various languages, the illusion of Sabor as being an artificial life form must have been very real. How did you get the job of working with Peter and Sabor?
EL: I landed the job because I was a certified toolmaker with electronic and electrical qualification and because I spoke english (trip to the US pending). I guess that was the
crunch to get the job.

[continued February 2008]

RH: The twenty separate units in Sabor's chest, are each of those a separate  function, which control a sequence of steps ie a programmable switch/timer? When you say you dial "11" to perform a function, is that two "1"s, or "0" plus "1" to give eleven?
EL: The units on his chest were individual Relays each for a function, dial 11 gives eleven,there were all two digit functions.

RH: You also mention that you modified Sabor when you first joined. Were the modifications major?
EL: He also had a photocell were you could flash twice was equivelant to 11. The modification where substancial,i.e remote and radio,mechanical improvements,added functions etc.

RH: Here's a pic of Sabor IV as used in a movie [pic from Automates]. Is the Base Station real or just a movie prop?
EL: That was the one for Sabor IV, the modified unit was only about 60x30x40 cm and consisted of a two way communication, microphone, loudspeaker, dial and antenna.
Peter had also a handset which he operated usaly at the beginning of the show.
We also took part in a concert with Lionel Hampton and took part in a display at the arrival in New York harbour with TV crews present.
Also a special audience with ED Sullivan at his 60's shows.
When we displayed at a show,often people would comment that " there is a man inside" were he then would remove the aluminium front chest and displayed the array
of relays etc…….
Most people would believe that Sabor has a great knowlege of everything,thanks to my dictionary and personal inputs,often I would say my brain is not trained to this question try another one.
Also and unfortunately the Base Station was not shown to the public.
RH: I had the impression Gertrud Steuer was Peter's wife, maybe its his daughter.
EL: Yes Mrs.G.Steuer was his wife unfortunately I had no contact with her since 1961.
RH: When you were "SABOR", did you talk in a Robotic-like voice  "Hel-lo , how – are – you – to – day?"
EL: My voice was not robotic but just slow motion and depending on the language and pronouced as needed.

RH: what was the material covering SABOR's legs, and were his hands beaten out of aluminium?
EL: The hands and feet(shoes) were in Aluminium,the legs were a very tough thick leather which bound in the back similar to shoe laces in order to get quick access to the batteries.

RH: The picture on the cover of the book "Die Roboter Kommen!". I always thought that was Sabor IV, not V [it is Sabor IV].  Externally, is there someway to tell the difference?
EL: The book " Die Roboter kommen" is mainly Sabor V and unfortunately not many people are still about to tell you more then I can about it. Sabor IV was just a lot less
complicated with a poor quality material, relay radio etc,also the mechanical bits where not good quality and lots had to be replaced or modified.

EL: When I was in the Museum last year [RH-2007] I had to show the administrator how the Robot worked as they had not a clue and we went in to the Archive to find the rest of the utilities i.e. Base Station microphones etc.

EL: P.S. In my later years some of this Robotism must have has an affect on me and I built a fully automatic drinksbar in the shape of Globe with a 110cm diameter.Again you could dial a Number and a certain selected drink would pour in to a glass and the appear at the front of the bar….it would also explain how it works in 4 Languages at the select of a button……but this is another story

Sources and other references:

"Die Roboter Kommen!" – Exhibition catalogue, 2007

QUB Magazine, November 2007.

SABOR's compared – Huber's earlier 1938 SABOR IV on the left, followed by the modifications made by Peter Steuer for SABOR V , then the modifications by Eric Lanz. The far right shows the same internals of SABOR V as modified by Lanz, but externally made to look like an astronaut, and called "Orbitus" at the time. Mechanically, SABOR stayed the same with minor updates.

Externally, SABOR IV is identified by his lack of eye-brows, but more specifically the shorter antennae, being for the ultra-short-wave radio transmitter/receiver. The earlier version of SABOR V externally has a battered body, no eye-brows, and a metal neck, not mesh like the later model.

See SABOR V last version here.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 29th, 2010 at 11:37 pm and is filed under The Robots. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “1954 – SABOR V – Peter Steuer / Eric Lanz [1961-9] – (Swiss)”

  1. jp Says:

    thats my grampas robot