Posts Tagged ‘1925’

1921-5 – Diving Armour – Joseph Salim Peress (Persian / British)


1921-5 – Diving Armor by Joseph Salim Peress.

The_Warren_Tribune_Mon__Dec_14__1925_ - Copy-x640

Sea Suit

Peress explaining his new armored diving suit at the Shipping Exhibition, at Olympia, London, England. It was manufactured in stainless steel by Staybrite Silver in England. Source: Getty Images

Diving Suit

Joseph Salim Peress with his new armoured diving suit.  Source: Getty Images


In 1921, Joseph Salim Peress filed for patent the first spherical type joint, which used a fluid to transfer the pressure. He built his first diving armour suit in 1925, which unfortunately did not work.


Source: Springfield Missouri Republican, Dec 18, 1925.

Steel Diving Suit Invented By Briton – By International News Service
London – A new diving-suit which, it is claimed, will be vastly superior to the now famous German suit [Neufeldt and Kuhnke] which was used in connection with the locating of the lost British submarine M. 1, has been invented by J. S. Peress, a young English engineer.
The new suit, which is made of rustless steel and is similar in appearance to the grotesque German suit, is composed of fifty pieces, and weighs 550 pounds. It is claimed that the suit has been tested with safety to work at the great depth of 650 feet, which is approximately 300 feet deeper than the present world's diving record.
The secret of Peress' suit is said to lie in the superiority of its joints. The joints of other diving suits are made unworkable at great depths by the pressure of the sea, but the joints of the Peress suit are made of frictionless metal, and are constructed on a patent floating joint principle, which renders them practically unaffected by pressure.
Unlike the German model, Peress' invention is not fitted with oxygen cylinders, although these can be fitted if necessary. The air is pumped down in the ordinary way through an armored pipe, which also carried electric and telephone wires.
The suit is fitted with delicately constructed mechanical hands, which can be changed for powerful tools should the diver be dealing with a wreck. Peress' invention is the culmination of five years research work.


Flexible joint for diving dresses

Publication number    US1402645 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Jan 3, 1922
Filing date    Apr 30, 1921
Priority date    Apr 30, 1921
Inventors   Joseph Salim Peress
Original Assignee    Joseph Salim Peress

See Peress' "Tritonia" suit here (not yet published).

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1925 – Teledactyl Remote Manipulator – Hugo Gernsback (German/American)

I'm having difficulty in obtaining a copy of this magazine, so I have used the original article and illustrations from Matt Novak's wonderful Paleofuture/Smithsonian article here.

Hugo Gernsback’s device was called the "radio teledactyl” and would allow doctors to not only see their patients through a viewscreen, but also touch them from miles away with spindly robot arms. He effectively predicted telemedicine, though with a weirder twist than we see implemented in 2012.

Source: Science and Invention, February, 1925: Original illustrations by Geo Wall.

The Teledactyl (Tele, far; Dactyl, finger — from the Greek) is a future instrument by which it will be possible for us to “feel at a distance.” This idea is not at all impossible, for the instrument can be built today with means available right now. It is simply the well known telautograph, translated into radio terms, with additional refinements. The doctor of the future, by means of this instrument, will be able to feel his patient, as it were, at a distance….The doctor manipulates his controls, which are then manipulated at the patient’s room in exactly the same manner. The doctor sees what is going on in the patient’s room by means of a television screen.

The doctor of the future examines a patient (1925)

Quite impressively, the teledactyl was imagined as a sensory feedback device, which allowed the doctor to not only manipulate his instruments from afar, but feel resistance.

Here we see the doctor of the future at work, feeling the distant patient’s arm. Every move that the doctor makes with the controls is duplicated by radio at a distance. Whenever the patient’s teledactyl meets with resistance, the doctor’s distant controls meet with the same resistance. The distant controls are sensitive to sound and heat, all important to future diagnosis.

Gernsback positions his predictions about telemedicine within the rapidly changing communications landscape of the 1920s:

As our civilization progresses we find it more and more necessary to act at a distance. Instead of visiting our friends, we now telephone them. Instead of going to a concert, we listen to it by radio. Soon, by means of television, we can stay right at home and view a theatrical performance, hearing and seeing it. This, however is far from sufficient. As we progress, we find our duties are multiplied and we have less and less to transport our physical bodies in order to transact business, to amuse ourselves, and so on.

The busy doctor, fifty years hence, will not be able to visit his patients as he does now. It takes too much time, and he can only, at best, see a limited number today. Whereas the services of a really big doctor are so important that he should never have to leave his office; on the other hand, his patients cannot always come to him. This is where the teledactyl and diagnosis by radio comes in.

It wasn’t just the field of medicine that was going to be revolutionized by this new device. Other practical uses would involve seeing and signing important documents from a distance:

The man of 1975 signs important documents by videophone (1925)

Here we see the man of the future signing a check or document at a distance. By moving the control, it goes through exactly the same motions as he would in signing he document. He sees what he is doing by means of the radio teleview in front of him. The bank or other official holds the document in front of a receiving teledactyl, to which is attached a pen or other writing instrument. The document is thus signed.

This diagram also explained how the teledactyl worked:

Diagram explaining how the teledactyl was supposed to work (1925)

Interestingly, we’d see this idea for telemedicine pop up again in 1990s concept videos from AT&T and Pacific Bell.

A year after this article was released Gernsback began publishing Amazing Stories, the first magazine that was devoted entirely to science fiction. Gernsback published a number of different magazines throughout his life, but I’d argue that none were filled with more rich, retro-future goodness than Science and Invention.

See about Waldoes here.

See other Teleoperators here.


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1928 – Meccano Walking Tractor – A. L. Spilhaus (Sth African) and C. Lee (British)

1925 Nilsson Walking Tractor

It is not always possible to use vehicles with wheels, especially when the ground is heavy and the surface uneven. The problem of overcoming the difficulty has long occupied the attention of inventors, and a new type of transmission was evolved when caterpillar action was used for the tanks during the War. One of the latest inventions in this connection is that of Mr. Nilsson, of Stockholm, whose novel "walking tractor" has recently been tested by the Swedish Government.
  This tractor moves forward, and hauls or carries a load, without the use of driving wheels or caterpillar action.
It uses levers or legs to retain a fixed grip on the ground, and is driven by a motor, mounted midway between the legs and a pair of wheels, which run free.
Power is transmitted through gearing to produce a movement of the legs, and this movement is almost identical with that of the legs of a horse, when the animal is hauling a load. The addition of a heavier load to the tractor causes the legs to take an increased grip on the ground. It is only necessary, therefore, to provide the tractor with suitable shoes, which vary according to the nature of the ground on which the vehicle is working.
  The legs are directly-geared members without cams, springs, or chains, and their movement is so timed that both legs are always planted on the ground before a leg is raised.
When a leg is lifted, the movement is speeded up and then is greatly decreased, until the leg reaches the ground again, at which point the speed is the same as at the beginning of the step. Thus the action does not force the shoe into the ground, as it might do if it came down with full force in places where the ground is soft.
  The method by which the tractor is steered is interesting. The gearing from the motor is connected to the legs in such a way that, when it is so desired, one leg moves forward more swiftly than the other. This movement is under control of the driver, so that the tractor will move forward in any desired curve. Apart from this, the tractor may be steered by the front wheels.
 It is anticipated that the tractor will be particularly useful for agricultural work, for it may be used for hauling ploughs and harrows over rough land, and used also for other farm duties.

Source: Meccano Magazine January 1925

1928 Meccano model of Nilsson's Walking Tractor.

Above model built by Brian Elvidge of the South East London Meccano Club.

Trivia: The above 1928 Meccano Magazine article was co-authored by [the now late] A. F. Spilhaus, who is famous for his Mechanical Toy collection of over 3000 pieces and book.

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1957- Japanese Humanoid Robots and Toy Robots – Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Jiro Aizawa, born 1903, is very significant in terms of Japan's history of robots, toy robots in particular.  (also Dr. Aizawa, Uncle Robot, Dr. Robot, Zirou Aizawa, Dr. Aizawa Zirou, and 二郎相澤 in Japanese.)

In 1910*1, when in 5th grade, Aizawa saw his first mechanical man in a London exhibition [RH Note that the word robot was not coined until 1921]. Since 1925 he had made scores of entertaining robots, founded a "research institute" to produce and popularize them, and became something of a folk hero in his own right. In 1934, he unsuccessfully petitioned the government to recognize the word "robot" as his personal trademark. (Inside the Robot Kingdom: Japan, Mechatronics, and the Coming Robotopia by Frederik L. Schodt, 1988) 

[*1 Some reports suggest date is 1914, not 1910. If Aizawa was born in 1903, then to be in 5th grade it was more likely to be 1914, making him 11 years old.]

The Institute:

The Japan Institute of Juvenile Culture was set up in 1952 and run by Jiro Aizawa and Osamu Tezuka (the creator of Astro Boy). It was based in Hoyamachi, west of Tokyo, and was dedicated to the production of new toy ideas. Back in 1964, the institute received an annual subsidy of 50 million yen (US$138,500). The institute provided 250 toy manufacturers with designs for toys sold in England, France, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, and the United States of America as well as Japan.

At one time the institute had more than seven hundred toy robots of various sizes. The most important members of this family are the so-called Ten Brothers, of which the oldest, Master Ichiro, is over seven feet tall, and the youngest, Master Juro, is much smaller. Each of the robot brothers has a special talent, or trick to perform., such as converying messages with gestures, smiling, or even reading people's palms. However, the most popular with the visiting children, is Master Hachiro, the least spectacular of them all, who when beckoned approaches them totteringly and shakes them by the hand. (Jasia Reichardt: Robots: Fact Fiction Prediction, 1978) 

Since 1959, Aizawa started building large, quite stylized humanoid robots, starting with Mr. Ichiro.  Prior to that his robots were 'toy' sized, although one larger one [see below] was built to tell the time in 1957.

The above robot was called "Universal Robot No. 2" c1947.

There were so called the ten brothers. I have images of more than ten so it is not clear as whether or not the robots built for Expo'70 are included in this ten as well as others. I will update this aspect as it becomes clearer to me. Most of the robots below will eventually each have their own web page.

1. Mr. Ichiro [Master Ichiro] [  一郎 ] 1959

2. Mr. Sparks 1962

3. Mr. Fugio

4. Mr. Shinsuk 1963?

5. Goro [Master Goro] 1962 ("Goro" means Five, and is the 5th brother).

6. Mr. Saburo [ 三郎 ]

These robots look very similar. The middle robot is probably Mr Fugio (see 3 above). 

Mr. Tetsu [Tetsu-kun] 1973 Green stamp robot

Dai II – standing – blue stamp robot #2

Mr Atomic rubber stamping robot – supposedly built for another Expo in 1968.

9. Mr. Hachiro [Master Hachiro] – a robot that totters and shakes hands.

10. Mr Juro – 1967 welcomed visitors to Science Museum in Tokyo (Juro means "ten").

Ryo-Kun Drawing Robot

Another unknown-name Aizawa robot [not Goro as claimed by others]

There's a large slot in the front and speakers – maybe it is a record player?

The robots built for Expo'70 in Osaka, Japan.

Mr. Taro [Taro-Kun] Cameraman robot [built for Expo’70] and featured with robot below in Fujipan Pavillion.

No-name robot [incorrectly called Goro in the recent restorations] usually paired with Mr. Taro above.

Mr. Kuro [Kuro-Kun]

Probably an Aizawa robot, 7ft tall, at the Fujipan pavilion. One robot display was by Jiro's partner Osamu Tezuka (the creator of Astro Boy) so possibly the robot was at least from their Institute of Juvenile Culture. 

Mini Orchestra Robots:

(Source: Mechanix illustrated September 1951)

Robots in Ragtime
The Japanese have come up with something new in toys. It’s a mechanical orchestra and its tinny music has captured the hearts of the youngsters.

Jiro Aizawa, an ex-Kamikaze plane designer, is the creator. Loath to discard his mechanical training after the war, he turned to experimentation with robots, a subject in which he had long been interested. His results are quite amazing.

The orchestra’s actual music is produced by a phonograph record synchronized with the movements of the players. In its repertoire are: Buttons and Bows, Beer Barrel Polka and Rumba Tamba.

See more Aizawa Musician robots here.

Aizawa's robot's re-discovered and restored at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology.

[updates to this at a later stage]

1948: Mechanical Elephant

A book cover with elephant. The article says the book was published in 1948.

The cover reads: "Happy modeling & handicraft" and the author "Tokyo metropolitan kogei (craft) high school instructor Jiro Aizawa". The elephant (the pet name is "Tamakichi-kun") was made by Aizawa.

Thank you Hisashi Moriyama for providing a translation of this page.

Photo credits: A lot of the images were collected when I had no intention of re-publishing them. If you are the author and would like recognition, please contact me on reubenh at .

Some images from "gernot" at Alphadrome .

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1925 – Radiana – Professor J. Popjie (Dutch/British)

Source: Popular Science Feb, 1931.

'Popjie' being blindfolded prior to "Radiana" driving the car in Rochdale .


The wording attributes "Radiana" to Popjie, however the person in the images below and in video clip below appears to show a different performer. Is it the same person?


Gaumont Pathe Archives have a 1927 video of this version of "Radiana". You have to be registered (free) and logged in to see the preview.  Search for "PJ 1927 17 8" including the quotes. Set mode to English unless you can read French.

The Hippodrome, Southampton
Programme for week commencing Mon, 30th Mar c1930s
Prof. John Popjie presents his non-stop novelty speed show ‘Fun & Thrills’ with all star company introducing: The Great Radiana, the most  sensational electrical novelty touring, presented by Professor John Popjie, the famous Dutch Savant.  ‘See this Scientific Marvel do Conjuring Feats.  Make a cake. Shave a man from the audience; extract teeth at the Professor’s will, etc.’

[Playbill] The Great Radiana. Leicester, Wilsons Printers, ca. 1930. 10 x 30" two-color playbill on yellow-orange stock, advertising "The most sensational Electrical Novelty in the World. Presented by Professor John Popjie, D.E.S.E.S. The Great Dutch Savant." Among Radiana's repertoire are conjuring feats, thought reading, etc. Radiana appears to be an incarnation of the Golem illusion, as performed by McDonald Birch and others.

Radiana – Popjie – 1927 by Jimmy Anderson: [Source here ]

‘It would appear that my wife’s Great-Aunt Kathleen – something of a ‘trouper’ – worked for one “Professor Popjie” who toured the world with his amazing “robot” Radiana.

‘This supposed automaton would perform feats such as shaving willing audience members, apparently under Popjie’s control.’
‘According to Great-Aunt Kathleen’s son, the top picture was taken around 1927 when Kath was 21. ‘She was small enough to fit inside the sphinx and manipulate the head, hands and legs.  She worked for Popjie for 3 years.  He proposed marriage to her – which was not accepted…’‘

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* Magic New Zealand
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Issue Number: #523
Date: Sunday 19th August 2007
Editor: Alan Watson
13. British Ring Convention
Message from Bob Hayden
PRO to the British Ring

Three interesting speakers will be delivering three interesting talks, on three interesting subjects, when Eddie Dawes introduces another session of the History of Mystery in the Arts Centre Studio on Saturday afternoon.

The speakers are Roger Woods, Andrew Sherratt and Vanessa Toulmin, whose subjects will be Josephine Langley, the Lady Ventriloquist, the life of Dutch-born John Popjie and early Edwardian Variety and Magical Films.

John Popjie was a colourful showman who became a naturalised British citizen and in the 1920s toured the halls with a pseudo automaton he called Radiana, based upon the Golem illusion. Later he presented an animal act as Prince Mercado with Lemo the lioness, in both cases being assisted by his Glaswegian wife Helen.

52 KING POLE No. 169 • September 2008

The beginnings of Pete Collins’ shows Collins was born the son of a seaside Pierrot show operator and he was a performer in it by the time he was eight, and sold picture postcards of the troupe for 2 pence each. It was the annual visit to his town of Bostock and Wombwell's Circus and Menagerie that introduced Pete Collins to his first sideshow, with a Fat Lady, Tatooed Man, Indiarubber Man and other attractions of the time. His father later founded the Fred Collins theatrical company and variety agency, and Pete forged a career “You’ll Never Believe It” Don Stacey recalls bizarre acts on TV and in circus in the 80s and in Pete Collins’ exotic stage shows of the 40s and 50s Above: Pete Collins (centre) with fire eater Sammy Wilde and his wife Princess Kari-Kari. All illustrations: Don Stacey collection.

With what became billed as “The Strangest Show the World Has Ever Seen". His telegraphic address became "Incredible, London", and those two words summed up his link with some of the strangest people and acts the world has known. A chance meeting in a barber's shop with a French robotic performer led him into forming a show with strange acts, beginning with Lofty and Sepetoni, the 23 inches high midget, Madame Fifi the educated pig, Radiana, an electrical machine which performed conjuring tricks, Elroy the armless artist, and Rene Mazie, the Mechanical Man from his barber's shop encounter, Lemo the tame lioness trained by Prince Mercado, and he added artistes like Professor Cheer, the Man with the Xylophone Skull. He gave the title "Would You Believe It" to the revue, and it was a success from the beginning, in an era when music hall and variety was extremely popular throughout Britain.
Fifi the pig developed a hankering for greasepaint sticks and was eventually banished to a pen rather than her trainer's dressing room. A theatre manager's son was attacked by Lemo the lioness when the boy ventured into her dressing room, and endured 16 stitches in his scalp as a result of his injuries. After the 2nd World War, Pete Collins came into his own with the show "You'll Never Believe It" and possibly some readers will have early memories of seeing it on tour. His shows date back to the 1930s but his postwar shows carried titles like the above, as well as "Would You Believe It!", "Jungle Fantasy", "A Date with Danger" and "Hold Your Breath!"
The earliest programme for "Would You Believe It!" in my own collection is for December 27, 1948 for the Empire Theatre, Kilburn, when Collins presented Fredel ("Is he Man or is it a Wax Dummy?"); Elroy the armless artiste; Crotchet, the Mad Musician; Stuthard, "the Incredible Canadian"; Happy Hepcats Pat Shires and Norma Tylee; the Man with the Xylophone Skull; the Bespalys with their Unbreakable Doll; Lofty and Pippi, "the famous midget from Olympia, London"; impressionist George Meaton; and Mushie, the forest-bred lion which ate a steak from Ellen's forehead twice nightly. Mushie was presented by Jack Harvey.
In May 1949, the show was at the Metropolitan Theatre, Edgware Road, London, and then at the Palace variety theatre in Blackpool, where, in addition to Elroy, and Mushie the lion, attractions included Al Carthy and his Mechanical Man (this being the famous French performer Mac Ronay); comic Bob Andrews; Atlas (a Belgian giant whose real name was Fernand Bachelard) with midget Pippi; who combined for a "Battle of the Giants"; strong lady Joan Rhodes; Pelletier and Partner, with "the world's only dog dancing partner"; the Billy Rose performer Bobby 'Tables' Davis; John Vree and Co., a Dutch porter with a box from which emerged a contortionistic doll.
In its 17th year of touring, Collins presented in "Would You Believe It!", its 10th all new edition, Katja, the tallest woman in the world (eight feet four and a half inches in her nylons, and weighing 33 stone) and The World's Fattest Family (weighing in at half a ton); along with the Rolling Lacys' globe rolling act; Joe Stuthard, Canadian comic; Radiana, the 'machine that shaves a man with an ordinary razor'; Nemec and Violet's frog contortion phantasy; musical comics Devine and King; Hans Vogelbein's comedy brown bears; and a Fakir Show that included "The Living Fountain" (a man who could drink 30 glasses of water and spout plain and fancy fountains); "The Human Ostrich", who swallowed a lighted neon tube containing 10,000 volts; and "The Painless Wonder", who allowed flaming arrows to be shot at him and exploded a bomb on his chest! Darly's dogs act replaced theVogelbein bears at the Palace Theatre, Blackpool in September, 1954.

I know nothing about the below image, other than this "Turk" works by the same principle as "Radiana" i.e. hidden person but actual person's hands substituted during the performance.

*Update Jan 2011 – Image is of Chantal Chaude de Silans, European Female Chess Champion, who was defeated by the faux automaton in 1953.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.