Posts Tagged ‘1932’

1932 – “The Iron Man” Robot – (American)

A 7 foot robot nicknamed The Iron Man, used to promote coming attractions. The Ben Ali Theatre was located at 121 East Main, Lexington, Kentucky, USA. 12/7/1932, Image Source: Lafayette Studios collection #1444a.

"The Iron Man", a static robot, would name all the forthcoming movies when asked. It currently unknown if this was done via electronics or a remote operator speaking through a microphone to the inbuilt speaker. Certainly the electronics were known at the time (see Televox or Mr. Radio Robot of 1931 ). Its interesting to see robots of this era styled after Televox in that the internal workings are visible. In "The Iron Man's" case, the control panel is mounted at the rear. The lamps and other paraphernalia are presented in three columns, again just like Televox's 3 grid-glow tubes. This trend has endured to current times and is stereotypical of the archetypal robot.

Article sourced from here.

See all the Early Humanoid Robots here.


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1932 – “Mechanical El” the Mechanical Elephant – M. Marcel Survivet (French)

One of the first known rideable mechanical elephants, called "Mechanical El" in the video clip, This machine is actually a walking machine, but the Howdah frame is on skids close to the ground. Quite a lot of large walking machines use this stabilising and load-carrying technique.

Invented by  M. Marcel Survivet of Paris, France, and exhibited at Le Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris circa 1932. Source: Popular Mechanics Nov 1932.


Titles read: "Meet 'Mechanical El.' He's an elephant, synthetic, and a pain in the neck to the usual kind."

Various shots of a mechanical elephant walking across a field in a park; a large cloud of smoke comes out of a kind of exhaust pipe at the rear of the machine. A little boy sits on a seat on the elephant's back, and a man sits on top, 'driving' the contraption. A real elephant comes over to have a look; he seems a bit freaked out by it!

1932 – Mr. Robot – William Hutter (American)

The Canberra Times < Saturday 23 July 1932  p5
Robot, the super orator and salesman, who never stutters or forgets, and whose tongue never makes a disastrous slip, is the new mechanical talking man invented by Mr. William Hutter, chief engineer of the wireless company of Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States. He was exhibited recently at the Radio Manufacturers' Association's convention in Chicago. There is no escaping Mr. Robot's "sales talks." The moment a visitor enters the exhibition room and passed a sensitive protographic cell, the talking apparatus concealed within the mechanical man is brought to life. With untiring vigour the robot not only gives a "sales talk," but he demonstrates each talking point. "And," Mr. Hutter says, "Mr. Robot can deliver university lectures and political speeches without extra effort.

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1932-3 – Mechanical Horse – D. G. Alzetta (Italian)

The above image from Popular Science April, 1933.

The Harford Courant Mar 6, 1933 p16

Italian Designs Mechanical Horse From Steel Tubing
Device Looks Like Grasshopper Stepping Along Road

Spezia, Italy—(AP.)—A mechanical horse, designed to substitute for the farm animal or even light tractor, has been invented by an engineer here, Signor D. G. Alzetta.
Propelled by a motor of only 5 horse power, the uncanny mechanical animal not only carries a person but pulls a light farm vehicle over rough ground.
The metal beast presents a weird appearance as its long skinny legs carry it along at a fair speed. It reminds the spectator of a huge grasshopper, or better still, of something seen in a bad dream.
The mechanical animal is made entirely of light steel tubing. The joints have been carefully worked out. Signor Alzetta says he studied equine anatomy to produce them. 
The driver sits amidships, on a spring-equipped motorcycle saddle, The motor is directly in front of him. Ahead rises the ominous-looking head and shoulders, he controls the "critter" by motorcycle handlebars and a lever. He starts it off at a walk and can get it up to a trot, but not a gallop.
Signor Alzetta's next development is to equip his quadruped with a higher-powered motor, to see if it will draw a plow.
"I see no reason why legs should not be as fundamentally a motive force as wheels," Signor Alzetta said.
"Practically everything that nature permits to move, except the enormous forces of the sea and glaciers, gets there on legs. Wheels were the invention or afterthought of men."

Source: Hartford Courant March 3, 1933.

One of the English-written press reports was from Jan 1933, so this "Mechanical Horse" (Meccanica Cavallo) was built in 1932 or earlier. Maybe there is an Italian person out there who has better images or a more complete story on this Mechanical Walker. 

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1932 – George Robot – Capt. W.H. Richards (British)

 The 1932 George Robot by Capt. William H.Richards is an improved version of the 1928 Eric Robot.

There is also a later 1952 version named Robert Robot with a different head, but I have no record of who owned and operated Robert Robot back then [1].


 The 1932 head is more sculptured, rounded than the later, more chiseled-looking head.



The Age (Melbourne) 20 Sep 1935 

Meet Mr. Robot
Not Forgetting His Master.

Melbourne has had the honor of being the first city south of the Equator to entertain George, one of the most famous figures in the world. He is the leader of a new race of beings; one of the most marvellous scientific products of the twentieth century. Wherever he goes with his inventor, Captain W. H. Richards (English journalist and author) he establishes a reputation for obedience and versatility. For those readers who unfortunately will not be able to make George's acquaintance at the wonderfully attractive electrical exhibition, we had a talk with him and Capt. Richards, and learnt the following interesting facts:—
It took five months to produce George; he behaved well enough till it came to getting him to stand up properly. Not that he was lazy; in fact just the reverse, for instead of getting up from his seat slowly and with dignity, like a king of Robots should. George would rise straight up like a jack-in-a-box. However, with firm perseverance, Captain Richards succeeded in getting him to bow before rising.
George has only one suit – it is made of smooth polished aluminium, and has an apron of mail. As it a not showing sighs of wear yet, it will probably do him for a long time. But he can display many moods, and if asked to show his teeth purple sparks appear in his mouth, accompanied by a sinister hissing.
As George was designed for travel, he had to become a perfect linguist, and when commanded, can talk in French, German. Hindustani, Chinese and Danish, as well as his native English.
When packed for travelling in his case, George weighs half a ton. Australia is the fifth continent he has "done" in his busy three years of existance, and he once gave a special performance for the Danish Royal family.
George's young brother, which Captain Richards built several years ago, has lost favor since George appeared, Captain Richards explained. This first robot cost £140 to make, which sounds plenty, and although he had a brilliant and exciting career-he was shot at once by the night watchman of a New York theatre— the appearance of George put him right out of countenance. George was the educated gentleman, alongside his rough-hewn awkward brother, and when you know that George cost almost £2000 you can't blame him altogether for being uppish.
Just how George is made is a secret, but the principle of his operation is that the voice of his master penetrates George's  armor, strikes the 3-inch diaphragm of a microphone, which, according to the word spoken, transmits electrical currents which are harnessed to the sensitive mechanism for controlling such actions as the moving of his head, raising his arms and standing up. What is George's inside like ?" the Captain was asked. "Most disappointing." he said, "nothing but gears and cranks, just like a watch on a large scale."


 George – Sydney Morning Herald, 3 April, 1936. – Note the squarer style of head.

 Above and  next two Images courtesy Brian Precious (UK)



 Feb 3, 1931. In Denmark with the British Prime Minister Sir Thomas and Lady Hohler.


Mister Robot

Robert Robot, Created By William Richards 




1952 and now called Robert

BE044458| Standard RM| © Bettmann/CORBIS
Woman With Early Robot On Tv Show
Original caption: 2/24/1952-Robot-Soup's on, so Robert stands by in the kitchen, ready to hold the handle of the hot pot for his mistress, Diana Dors, who samples the pot's contents. Robert, in his uncomplaining way, is a valuable adjunct to any household, Diana believes.
Image:    © Bettmann/CORBIS –  Collection:    Bettmann Standard RM Date Photographed:    February 24, 1952  

 BE044448| Standard RM| © Bettmann/CORBIS
Diana Dors with Robot
Original caption: 2/24/1952-Dunsfold, England: Tete-a-tete in the Hamilton living room co-stars Robert, the man of steel, and Diana Dors, lovely film and television star. One of Robert's few bad features is that he's a bit cumbersome. The ingenious robot, built by Diana's husband, Denis Hamilton, from spare parts found in the cellar, weighs in at a mere 330 pounds.
Image:    © Bettmann/CORBIS. Collection:    Bettmann, Date Photographed:    February 24, 1952 , Location Information:    Dunsfold, England, UK 

[Ed. – Robert the robot was not built by Denis Hamilton as suggested, but by Richards himsef!] 

U1186811INP| Standard RM| © Bettmann/CORBIS
Denis Hamilton Playing Cards with His Wife and a Robot
Original caption: "No cheating, please," Robert cautions, as he sits down for a friendly hand with his bosses, Dennis Hamilton and pretty Diana Dors. After dinner dishes are out of the way, it's fun to have a quiet game with the man of steel. Image:    © Bettmann/CORBIS.  Collection:    Bettmann . Date Photographed:    February 24, 1952






Video Clips

I have located 2 clips.



At Gaumont Pathe above, you have to register then log in and search for these under the English version:



[1]-13 November 2014. I've had it confirmed by correspondence  with  surviving Richards family correspondence that there were actually three robots built by Richards, and 'Robert' is the third.  Further, I've had it confirmed that Denis Hamilton did not build Robert as suspected, but actually stole him from Richards. 

See Richards Eric the Robot here.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.

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