Posts Tagged ‘1916’

1916 – Diving and Excavating Apparatus – Dewey T. Deemer (American)


1916 – Diving and Excavating Apparatus by Dewey T. Deemer


Publication number    US1228300 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    May 29, 1917
Filing date    Jul 10, 1916
Priority date    Jul 10, 1916
Inventors    Dewey T Deemer
Original Assignee    Dewey T Deemer

Be it known that I, DEWEY T. DEEMER, a citizen of the United States, residing at Hopkins, in the county of Allegan and State of Michigan, have invented new and useful Improvements in Diving and Excavating Apparatus, of which the following is a specification.

This invention relates to a diving and excavating apparatus, designed particularly for deep sea explorations, and one object of the invention is to provide a device of this character which may be lowered from the surface to a considerable depth, and will effectually withstand deep sea water pressure.

Another object of the invention is to provide means for raising and lowering the apparatus which also serves as an electric conductor, for the supply of current to one or more contained motors, telephones, etc., whereby different devices may be operated in a ready and convenient manner.

A still further object of the invention is to provide an apparatus of the described character which will allow deep sea observations, which embodies a base and a drum or receptacle, adjustable to different observation or working positions, and which is also provided with propelling and excavation devices, and means for freeing the exploring apparatus from its base for elevation to the surface when necessary.


See other early Underwater Robots here.

1916 – Machine for Submarine Salvage Operations – Alexander J. Bergeron (American)


1916 – Machine for Submarine Salvage Operations by Alexander J. Bergeron

bergeron-pat-3 bergeron-pat-4-x640

Publication number    US1304012 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    May 20, 1919
Filing date    May 11, 1916
Inventors    Alexander J. Bergeron

The object of my invention is to provide a machine for sub-marine salvage operations, adapted at all times to be connected with boats or the like on the surface of the water, and to carry one or more operators below the water…….
A further object is to provide such a device having means outside the shell controllable from within for illuminating any part of the water around the shell.

A further object is to provide in such a machine, a plurality of tools operatively connected with the shell, controllable from within the shell, and adapted to be moved to a variety of positions and to perform a variety of operations, such as striking, pulling, pushing, gripping and so on.

A further object is to provide means, controllable from within the shell, for supplying power to and operating said tools for working them, said means including a cylinder and pistons therein, exposed to the water pressure on one side, a pair of pumps, means for alternately operatively connecting said pumps with said cylinder on the other side of said piston for alternately subjecting said piston to greater pressure and less pressure than the water pressure………..

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1916 – Submarine Armor Suit – Frank W. Walters (New Zealander)

The_Evening_News_Fri__Aug_19__1921_ - Copy-x640 

Caption: Walters suspended from ship's derrick and about to be lowered into the deep with the aid of a helper.

"Marine Scarecrow" Wins Fortune From Sea Floor
VANCOUVER, B. C., Aug. 18.-Frank Walters, "Marine Scarecrow," makes his living on the bottom of the sea. And it's a good living, too, because Walters, a professional diver, salvages the valuables from wrecked ships. Brazen mermaids couldn't make Walters lose his cool head if they wanted to, because it's encased in part of the heavy aluminum armor he wears, and which is his own invention. Under fathoms of water, in the eternal marine twilight, the prowling "scarecrow" exhumes his treasures from the graveyards of North Pacific ships with only the curious fish for companions. Sunken vessels he has recently searched are the "Princess Sophia," the "State of California," the "Islander," with a quarter million gold in her gaping hold, the "Mariposa," "Zilla May," "Dora' and other mercantile marine corpses that clutch treasures in bullion. Walters has made a fortune in gleaning the sea floor.

Source: Logansport Pharos-Tribune, August 18, 1921.

Frank Walters was constructing his aluminium diving suit from 1916. Source: New Zealand Herald, Volume LIII, Issue 16375, 1 November 1916, Page 9

A professional diver from New Zealand, he also invented and improved diving dress as well. See Canadian patent 192,333.


Submarine Armor Suit

Publication number US1359132 A
Publication type Grant
Publication date Nov 16, 1920
Filing date May 21, 1919
Priority date May 21, 1919
Inventors Walters Frank W
Original Assignee Walters Frank W


Earlier in 1921, Walters had set a new deep-sea diving record of 396 feet. Source: Brownwood Bulletin Texas, March 26, 1921.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1916 – Submarine Armor – William S. Boyd (American)


Essentially an armored glove, converting the operator's hand into a pair of pliers.


Publication number    US1198611 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Sep 19, 1916
Filing date    Feb 11, 1916
Priority date    Feb 11, 1916
Inventors    William S Boyd
Original Assignee    William S Boyd

This invention relates to submarine armor for the use of divers, and particularly to that class of armor which is composed of sections of rigid material united by watertight joints, and especially to those portions of the armor adapted to inclose and protect the hand of the operator.

An example of the kind of armor referred to is to be found in Letters Patent of the United States No. 989,530, issued April 11th, 1911, to C. E. MacDuffee, and the invention which is the subject matter of this application may be considered in a general sense as an improvement upon the device described in that patent. In that device, the means provided for the operator to employ in grasping an object consists of a pair of tongs terminating in inwardly turned hook members projecting from a sleeve and adapted to be oscillated on a common pivot by means of a longitudinal handle passing through the end of and into the sleeve and adapted to be moved longitudinally by the hand of the operator.

The object of the present invention is to provide an armor of the general character described with a hand section which will permit the operator to use his hands in a natural, though limited, manner; will enable him to grasp objects over a much wider area than can be done through the use of opposing tong points, and will also enable him to some extent to utilize his sense of feeling when the members of the hand section are brought in contact with other objects.


Above: Macduffee's Submarine Armor as mentioned in Boyd's patent.


The German company NEUFELDT and KUHNKE patented and used as similar hand to Boyd's in 1917. German patent No. 301434C.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1916 – “King Grey” the Electric Titan – Fern Pieper (American)

I first saw this mentioned in David M. Earle's interesting book titled "Re-Covering Modernism: Pulps, Paperbacks, and the Prejudice of Form", but John Ptak's recent post reminded me of it. I have used his image of the prototype walking machine.

The model of King Grey, the Electric Titan.  Although called "Electric", the motive power is by two large 40 H.P. automobile engines. A smaller engine will generate electricity to be used for sensors and controls. See below article for further details.

Another source.
The Colac Herald [Victoria, Australia], 30 Jan 1918
It is highly improbable, as we have said before, that military "Tanks" will stop where they are. The invention is too revolutionary not to excite the interest of engineering experts, and, moreover, the field is so sure and promising that it must attract the creative. The ironclad commenced its career in much about the
same way. It was just an old wooden hulk cased in the railway rails of the day. The Tank is merely an armoured plus-motor-lorry on caterpillar wheels, which were originally devised for agricultural purposes.
Here is an invention, due to an American electrician, Mr. Vern Pieper. He has devised a wonderful walking giant! At the present moment, he has completed only the model, but the real giant-a nine foot marvel of steel plates, knuckles, and cog wheels-is now in the process of being forged.
The movement in the feet and legs in the little model is so perfect that his steps appear natural; he may be stopped standing on the toe of one foot and the heel of the other, or in almost any natural position that would he assumed by a human being.
When fully grown King Grey-as the inventor calls him-will be 9 feet tall; his weight will be 750 pounds. His anatomical proportions will be: distance from hip joint to the ground, 4 feet 9 inches; distance from toe of boot to rear of vehicle, 21 feet; foot 16 inches long; 7 inches wide; step, 42 inches. The legs will be weighted with mercury to maintain a low centre of gravity.
The chief achievements of King Grey will be drawing a vehicle weighing over 1,500 pounds, containing four persons, any distance desired. That is the hope of the inventor, and the hope is not beyond the realms of possibility.
An intricate mechanism is required to direct the movements of the giant. Besides the two 40-horse power automobile type engines required as propulsive force, a small 2-horse-power engine will be used to govern an electrical nervous system. This small engine will operate a set of feather clutches, controlled by the movement of an electric plumb-bob in the giants head. The bob, moving in accordance with the slope of the ground will cause the giant to lean forward when ascending a hill and backwards when descending.
King Grey will be caused to turn corners by shortening the stroke of the inside leg and lengthening the stroke of the outside one.
He will be connected to the vehicle he draws by two steel shafts, 5 inches in diameter and 8 feet long, bolted to his body at the hips; his hands will rest on the ends of the shafts, and it will appear as if he were a live man of extraordinary size, pulling the vehicle after the manner of a horse hitched to a dog cart.
Four sledge-like runners will be mounted under the car, one at each wheel, and at the slightest sign of a mechanical derangement that might tend to cause a wreck, the runners will automatically drop to the ground and the wheels at the same instant, rise from the ground. The car, thus converted into a sledge, will act as an enormous break and bring the machine to an instant stop.
The nation, says Mr. Cracker, that could put into the field a legion of steel mechanical giants-filled with men armed with guns-charging down over the hills, smashing with their huge feet through the feebly obstructing barbed wire, leaping the trenches, and massacring the helpless defenders, would, especially if the thing could be done by surprise, demoralize, and even rout a whole army. Other scientific miracles have been frequent. Why, it is asked by our authority, may not such a monster as the Electrical Titan be part of the mechanical equipment of the armies of the future ?– "Popular Science Siftings."

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 22, 1914

Fern Pieper Shows Electric Man Who Could Walk Long Distances If Anyone Wanted Him to Do it.
At the room on Third street, in the Wuerker building, where the International Correspondence School is conducting an exhibit,  Ernest Harlow, the local representative, today put on exhibition the mechanical man which was built by Fern Pieper, one of the pupils of the school. Mr. Pleper is a mechanical genius and in his spare time has perfected many curious mechanical devices. One of these is the mechanical man. He hasn't put a head on the man as all that is needed for the present is the legs-the motive device. He plans to construct a nine foot high man, if anybody would engage the services of such a man, and let the mechanical man walk to the San Francisco Exposition. A man of such size as Mr. Pieper proposes would be able to haul a real man in a cart behind, who could guide the brainless mechanical man.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 25, 1914

A great many interested spectators today at noon witnessed some of the performances of the mechanical man built by Ferdinand Pieper, and equipped by him with electrical contrivances and devices calculated to make him go some. He is unlike "Percy the Mechanism Man" of the funny papers a few years ago, in that his conduct is more orderly. Percy was continually doing things to prove himself a natural outlaw, and all of the machinery that caused him to do things, when a button was pressed, was inside of him.

Ferd's mechanism man is not operated altogether by inside machinery. There is some behind him that assists materially in boosting him along. He claims to do nothing but walk. He was allowed to walk alone and unguided today for a distance on the sidewalk on Belle street, and he did the deed well. Weston, O'Leary or any other champion walker would not be on it with the Alton Percy as far as endurance is concerned anyway, and he gets over the ground rapidly too. As a walking advertisement for some big concern, the Alton Percy would be a winner. He could walk from ocean to ocean and from "Greenland's icy mountains" to Huerta's mescal land without acquiring a corn on his foot or a stone bruise by a toe. The model is not a very large one, but the size of the one that would make the transcontinental trip could be regulated to suit. He could be twenty feet high if desired.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 17, 1916

The whimsical conceit of an Alton inventive genius – a mechanical man – something that was built more as a form of amusement, may become a means of destruction, is the prophecy of a writer who is telling the story about the creature of Fern Pieper's mind. The "Grey King" of Alton has been given much space in the December issue of the Illustrated World, which has just been received at the Mather Book store. In addition to the write-up, the front cover shows the Grey King in action in battle, spitting death and destruction to those in front and on either side of him.

The Grey King is an iron man invented by Fern Pieper, and the story in the Illustrated World which puts Fern and the King before the scientists and inventors of the world, was written by Herbert C. Crocker of Edwardsville. It tells how the model created interest and excitement a few years ago when the inventor sent it out walking through the streets of Alton. That was only a model. A real iron man is now being fashioned in a St. Louis foundry and will soon be ready for action. The Illustrated World calls the invention an electric Titan and elaborates on the possibilities of the invention. With a flock of such men equipped properly, Uncle Sam could send this terrible army against an enemy, and each member of the flock would walk unhesitatingly into the ranks of that same enemy, mowing them down as the harvester mows down grass, and nothing they could do could stop the destruction or disable the walking iron men until the electrical apparatus that guided them broke or run down.

The article is certain to give Alton wide publicity, and it will give Fern Pieper a little, at least, of the credit that is due him. He is an inventor of great ability and merit, and a dreamer who will live to see some of his cherished dreams come true. Machines in war in Europe are the agencies winning the most battles, and it is not a far cry to equipping these machine-made iron men of Pieper's designing with bullet propelling apparatus. Iron that can be made to walk around like a man can be fixed to shoot like a man and with powers and immunity no mortal possesses.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 20, 1917

Alton Iron Men as Destroyers In France, and Other Fighting Countries In Europe?
Several months ago the Telegraph published an account of the construction by Fern Pieper of a massive iron or steel man, who was equipped with internal machinery that kept him moving steadily in which ever direction he was started.
It was constructed by Mr. Pieper for advertising purposes or a commercial traveller, as it were, but some of the leading magazines of the country took the matter up and pointed out the possibilities of use and destruction the Pieper iron man could become in case the U. S. went to war with any other nation. The man's internal apparatus, it is pointed out in addition to the motive power (electric) could be equipped with rapid fire guns or shells, and the man or a flock of such men could be turned loose out the enemy and their advance could not be stopped or the work of destruction prevented by an army. The iron men would continue to advance and pour fire out of the port holes provided until the electric apparatus run down, while shot or shell of the enemy's army would have little or no effect on the iron men.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 13, 1918

Man Who Did Not Understand Mechanism Got Machinery Out of Order and He Had To Be Pushed Home.
An "iron man" who can walk and may be a regular Percy, the mechanical man, was taken out for a walk Friday afternoon, by a man from St. Louis, who wanted to test out the man prior to closing a contract to have him rigged up to help roll Liberty Loan bonds. The man was in a shed at the home of Chas. Oehler, who has been perfecting the ground work laid by Fern Pieper, whose ideas originated the walking mechanical man. The St Louis man could not wait, it is reported, until Mr. Oehler could be found to take the man out for a walk and the result was a crank broke in the mechanism of the man. The mechanical man would not walk any further. A new crank was made and that was broken, too. Something had gone wrong. The mechanical man was at last pushed by six other men back to his shed where he will stay awhile. It was planned to use the man in parades to advertise the Liberty Loan. He could not be put in shape for use in Alton next Wednesday, it is feared, but the St. Louis man was so attracted by the possibilities of the man he wanted to use him in a hurry. The "man" walked to Ninth and Alby streets, where he stuck. He had previously been out walking on the streets at midnight, so he would attract less attention.

See here for images of the revised giant pulling a "Liberty" boat.

See other Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.