1979 – “Tomaton” the Robot – Lenny Schectman (American)
Ft. Lauderdale – TOMATON and his creator Lenny Schectman. July 1979.
Tomaton, short for Automaton, is 6-foot tall.
Lenny Schectman became involved in robotics mainly because of his interest in technology allowing the brain to be tapped to signal function in limbs of paraplegics and quadraplegics. He wanted to enter the biomedical engineering field but lacked the proper degrees. The 33-year-old bachelor explained he made the first 14-inch tabletop robot at age 19 as a conversation piece for parties. His next was five feet tall. But because robots were not "in", he ditched it until deciding to build Tomaton in 1979.
Now the cement truck driver spend countless hours foraging in hardwarw stores for assorted wires, light bulbs, aluminum screening, copper rings and other robot-related paraphernalia.
Extract from Boca Raton News, October 3, 1983.
Control Box for TOMATON.
Schectman later built another robot called "Apollo" around 1983.
Apollo is 100-pounds in weight, 4-foot 3-inches high. Apollo rolls on wheels and its head revolves and its chest lights up. Laser-treated plexiglas gave the red and gold lights in its peaked head a prism effect. Apollo required 2,500 hours to build and cost [in 1983] $10,000 in parts.
I do not have a good image of Apollo, and very little information about Tomaton. Please contact me if you have further information.
See the complete list of early Mechanical Men and Robots here.