Posts Tagged ‘1933’

1931-3 – “Explorer” Submersible – Simon Lake (American)


1931-3 – "Explorer" Submersible by Simon Lake.


The "Explorer" is located at Milford Landing Marina, 37 Helwig St. Milford Connecticut 06460.

The "Explorer" was the last boat built by the pioneering submarine designer and builder, Simon Lake. The Explorer was intended strictly for research and salvage and was linked to a mother ship for air and power. Divers could enter and leave the submarine through an escape hatch. The boat was also equipped with a mechanical arm and basket. Like Simon Lake's first great submarine, "The Argonaut, Jr." (1894), the "Explorer" could travel under water either by the propeller or along the ocean floor on drive wheels.

For the complete Simon Lake story, and source for some images, see here.









PopSci1872_story - Copy-x640

Source: Popular Science, May 1932.


Science and Mechanics 1933-04-x640

Cover and some images from Everyday Science and Mechanics, April 1933.



Portrait of Simon Lake.


Source: Popular Science, March 1933.



Patent Information

Submarine locating, harvesting, and recovery apparatus

Publication number    US1997149 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Apr 9, 1935
Filing date    Oct 15, 1931
Priority date    Oct 15, 1931
Inventors    Simon Lake
Original Assignee    Simon Lake

This invention relates to submarine locating, harvesting and recovery apparatus, especially designed for recovering the natural products of the sea, but capable of co-operation with a surface vessel in locating and recovering sunken ships and cargoes and of removing or replacing rock in certain kinds of submarine engineering work. The invention embodies improvements on some of my previous devices on which Letters Patent of the United States of America have already been granted.

The object of the present invention is to provide a safe and more flexible submarine apparatus in which the operator is not subjected to hydrostatic pressure in deep water, as is a diver engaged in recovering sponges, pearl shells, edible shell fish, and other natural products of the sea when using the usual type of diving dress. At the same time it makes possible the recovery of much larger quantities of such products per man per diem. It is also well adapted to the securing of photographs of both animate and inanimate objects under the sea.





See other early Underwater Robots here.

1933 – Submarine Salvage Apparatus – Eugene J. Romano (American)


1933 – Submarine Salvage Apparatus by Eugene J. Romano.




For a demonstration of the robot to be used on this expedition, Lieutenant Harry E. rieseberg tackles the device in true diver's fashion. There is no dignity in entering or leaving the robot.



Harry E. Rieseberg

Extract from HE WALKS WITH  DAVEY JONES by Eric Strutt
Source: The Lincoln Star, 28 December, 1941

 WHILE Lieutenant Rieseberg had been off adventuring, Eugene Romano, an inventor living in Seattle, Wash., had been perfecting a steel diving robot capable of withstanding ocean pressure to a depth of 5000 feet. Two toggle-jointed, electrically operated arms extend from the upper half of the robot, terminating in pincer-like claws delicate enough to pick up a single coin, yet strong enough to exert a pressure of 5000 pounds, and flexible enough to tie a knot in a cable.
  Lieutenant Rieseberg received permission to test this Romano robot; and with Captain Loesche as sailing master of the magnificent four-masted schooner Constellation he set out for Manta Bay, Peru, where he hoped to find the wreck of the Santa Cruz, a victim of treacherous reefs during the 17th century. The ancient manuscript that told of the wreck stated there was a curse on the treasure.
 A MAN can't let century-old curses a interfere with his business. Arriving at Manta Bay, Rieseberg explored the ocean floor in the goggle-eyed robot until he found the ship.
 A few yards away, in an observation bell, "Spik" Gomez, an assistant, was taking pictures of the diving bell in action. Suddenly out of a dark sea ravine a huge octopus slid between the divers and wrapped its tremendous tentacles around the observation bell, shaking it with' such force that Gomez was knocked unconscious.
 Lieutenant Rieseberg set his movie camera going and moved in to the rescue. Using the robot's powerful pincer claws, he hacked at the encircling arms of the Manta Bay monster until he had killed it.
 A little later Rieseberg and another diver went down below in regular suits to take pictures and measurements of the great octopus. It measured 24 feet from tip to tip—the largest octopus ever filmed.
 The next time Rieseberg submerged he uncovered a crude iron chest that yielded up 400.000 corroded and blackened discs of metal, later valued at approximately $40,000.
 A FEW minor, and usually successful, cruises served as a prelude to another try for the Silver Shoals treasure which had now become ale most an obsession with Rieseberg.
 He made a number of exploratory descents in the Romano robot at Silver Shoals until he located an ancient galleon which appeared to be one of the fabulous fleet he sought.
 The following day, in the face of an approaching storm, he went over the side. He reached the wreck, which was perched on a rocky outcrop about 50 fathoms deep. He started working around the hulk, when a violent rocking motion of the robot sent it rolling over the rock shelf and straight down.
 "I shouted through the telephone, but I got no answer," Rieseberg told me. "Finally the robot came to an abrupt halt, and Captain Loesche's voice came through the headphones. A gale had struck the ship and the cable controlling the robot had slipped sending me down 234 fathoms—deeper than anyone had ever gone in a workable robot before.

Note: RH 2015 – Riesenberg is known to have stretched that facts at lot to make an interesting story. The octopus mentioned above was later revealed to be a prop to the movie he was making at the time.




SOON to be used in a search for sunken treasure, a new salvaging system recently was demonstrated at Washington, D. C. When a sunken vessel holding bullion is located, four cables anchor the salvage ship. Auxiliary cables then lower a one-man diving sphere and move it to any part of the wreck. The diver attaches salvage buoys or pontoons to the vessel, which is ultimately raised to the surface by pumping air into the buoys. Oxygen and air-purifying apparatus within the sphere enables the diver to stay submerged for sixteen hours. The steel ball is strong enough to withstand sea pressure at a 2,500-foot depth, and has movable six-foot arms to which twelve different implements may be attached and manipulated with amazing dexterity. With them, the diver can lift half-ton weights, tie knots in inch-and-a-half steel cable, and drill three-inch holes through ship plates. To demonstrate still more convincingly the maneuverability of the arms, a skilled operator recently performed the stunt of playing bridge, readily picking up and laying down the cards with the versatile "hands."

Source: Popular Science, August 1935.




ONCE more the world's richest treasure chest, Davy Jones' locker, is about to be invaded, this time by a weird, iron-clawed diving bell, the product of Eugene J. Romano's imagination and mechanical genius.
The Romano undersea robot, recognized by many authorities as one of the greatest advancements in deep sea operation history, has a pear-shaped shell capable of withstanding water pressure at depths of 5,000 feet. It has two arms nine feet long, strong enough to lift half a ton, and yet adjustable enough to pick up a small coin. There are powerful lights that can pierce the water for a hundred feet.  
Oxygen for the operator is supplied by an apparatus inside the sphere working in conjunction with an air purifier. Unlike divers who plumb the depths in diving helmet and suit, the operator of the robot works under normal pressure regardless of the depth.
In salvaging sunken treasure, the robot will be hoisted over the side of the salvage vessel Constellation, and a mile long cable will lower it to the bottom. There the operator will guide the ship's movements by telephone until the sunken treasure ship is located.
A Romano salvage buoy, capable of raising 100 tons, will be lowered. This buoy permits the water to flow through it, thus equalizing the pressure. The operator, manipulating the hydro-pneumatic arms of the robot, will then rig the buoy in place. Pumped-in air will replace the water in the buoy and raise the boat.              

Source: Mechanix Illustrated Magazine, September, 1935 

Romano's Patents:


Maneuvering means for underwater salvage equipment



Publication number    US2004133 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Jun 11, 1935
Filing date    Mar 27, 1933
Priority date    Mar 27, 1933
Inventors    Romano Eugene J
Original Assignee    Romano Eugene J


My present invention relates to the art of marine salvage equipment and more particularly to maneuvering means for under water salvage equipment.

The principal object of my present invention is the provision of maneuvering means which permit the exact placement of a diving bell even though it may be far beneath the surface of the water.

A further object of my invention is to provide means whereby, after the bell has been placed in its desired position, it may be revolved so that any arms or ports may face in the most desired direction.


Underwater salvage device







Publication number    US2040956 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    May 19, 1936
Filing date    Mar 27, 1933
Priority date    Mar 27, 1933
Inventors    Lula Romano
Original Assignee    Lula Romano

My present invention relates to the art of underwater salvaging and more particularly to an underwater salvage device.

The great wealth represented in sunken boats and the like in the ocean, at greater depths than the ordinary diver can descend, has prompted the development of many devices to aid in underwater salvage. My device is of this general class. It is characterized however by being so arranged in that an operator can descend hundreds of feet below the surface of the water and by means of control arrangements manipulate two or more arms in a manner which makes it possible to execute any maneuver that could normally be done by the two arms of an individual. The method of supporting and maneuvering my salvage device has been gone into in some detail in my co-pending application entitled "Maneuvering means for underwater salvage equipment 20 Serial Number 663,030 filed March 27, 1933 has all the characteristics of the various diving bells which have been designed and constructed to permit an observer descending to great depths to assist in directing salvage operations, and in addition is provided with the mechanical arms which because of their unusual construction have proven to be of great value.

The principal object of my present invention is therefore to provide means in addition to a diving arrangement whereby salvage operations can actually be conducted by the observer.

A further object is the provision of means whereby the mechanical arms of my diving device can be operated in the same manner as the arms of an individual.

A further object is the provision of means whereby the power applied to the arms of my device can be so increased that the device can be used to handle the heavy cables and chains, lift heavy objects and the like which marine salvage requires.

Submarine salvage apparatus





Publication number    US2061256 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Nov 17, 1936
Filing date    Jan 16, 1935
Priority date    Jan 16, 1935
Inventors    Romano Eugene J
Original Assignee    Romano Eugene J

 My present invention relates to improvements in submarine salvaging apparatus and particularly to the operating mechanism and control means of the duplex grappling arms forming part of the apparatus or equipment. The submarine equipment includes a diving bell in which the operator is stationed, and by the utilization of the operating mechanism and control devices of my invention the exterior, flexible, grappling arms are manipulated from the interior of the shell or diving bell, in order to swing the two arms in parallel planes with relation to the bell; to flex the arms; and to revolve one section of each of the flexible arms on its longitudinal axis. A pair of grappling jaws are mounted at the free ends of each of the grappling arms, and operating means for these jaws are also controlled from the interior of the diving bell by the operator.

By the employment of both his hands and feet, the operator is enabled to manipulate the two grappling devices and co-ordinate their functions in such facile manner as to assure eflicient and rapid movements in salvaging operations while under water. ….

Interesting that the current field of aerial camera systems, including CableCam® and Spidercam®, amongst others,  use the same basic technique that Romano patented back in 1933.

The patent for  Cablecam: System and method for moving objects within three-dimensional space

Publication number    US6809495 B2
Publication date    Oct 26, 2004
Filing date    Jul 28, 2003
Inventor    Jim Rodnunsky


Neslé chocolate sticker card from Belgium.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1933 – Giant Walking Bridge – M. Clemients (French)

During 1933, engineer's were determining how the Golden Gate Bridge[1] was to be built.

Source: Modern Mechanix and Inventions, Dec 1933.

One engineer's suggestion for the solution of the problem of sinking caissons[2] is depicted here in this picture of a "walking bridge." Definite placement of caissons has always been an engineering bugaboo when they are floated over a spot and sunk. Especially is this true in harbors where there are side rips, or in rivers where strong currents are found. While the walking version may be impracticable, a caterpillar footed bridge is certainly plausible and has many merrits from a constructional standpoint.


The size of the caissons which must be built and sunk to enable piers to be built has called forth one of the most novel engineering proposals of recent years – still another bridge, a “Walking Bridge” if you please – which will walk to the location with the caisson and there accurately sink it upon the exact spot required.

Caissons are an essential impedimenta to bridge building of this type, and they are hard to handle in tide rips or rivers which have currents. M. Clemients, French engineer of Paris, has proposed a mobile structure which could pick up the caisson and either by walking with it, or on caterpillar treads, move to the spot desired to muck the caisson in.

[1] The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

[2] caisson from wiki In geotechnical engineering, a caisson (/ˈkeɪsən/ or /ˈkeɪsɒn/) is a watertight retaining structure used, for example, to work on the foundations of a bridge pier, for the construction of a concrete dam, or for the repair of ships. These are constructed such that the water can be pumped out, keeping the working environment dry. When piers are to be built using an open caisson and it is not practical to reach suitable soil, friction pilings may be driven to form a suitable sub-foundation. These piles are connected by a foundation pad upon which the column pier is erected.


Source: Gizmodo
These Giant Claws Pluck Oil Rigs From The Briny Deep
Andrew Tarantola 31 May 2012 11:30 AM
Though they weigh as much as 55,000 tonnes, the massive semi-submersible oil rigs dotting the Gulf of Mexico can still sink when faced with a hurricane’s onslaught. And there’s only one way to pull the rigs’ 6800-tonne decks off the seafloor after such a catastrophe — with America’s heaviest-lifting ship, the VB 10,000.

Designed by the Versabar corporation (based off the company’s previous heavy lifter, the Bottom Feeder) and constructed by Gulf Marine Fabricators in Ingleside, Texas, the $US100 million VB 10,000 is a heavy-lift catamaran that mounts a pair of massive lift gantries atop a pair of barges. Perhaps massive is a bit of an understatement.

Each gantry measures 73 metres tall and weighs over 3000 tonnes — or about as much as the Ben Franklin Bridge in Delaware. The barges both measure 90m by 22m, and each is powered by a quartet of 1000hp thrusters that also allow it to remain stationary over the job site. To prevent the motion of the ocean from affecting the the lift, the VB 10,000 utilises a set of articulated pins to connect the gantries to the barges. To perform the actual lift, four 1800-tonne lifting blocks are attached to the oil rig deck by divers, who also cut off the rig’s legs, and are then pulled to the surface by the vessel’s quad 360-tonne winches and deposited on the back of a waiting barge for transport back to port.

Launched in October 2010, the VB 10,000 has already logged over 40 lifts — everything from underwater debris retrieval, to topside decommissioning, to jacket removal and reefing. And with the vessel’s new grasping devices, the VB 10,000 will be able to pick up the some 1800 rigs US regulators have deemed necessary for removal in the next decade.

Aptly named “The Claws”, these underwater lift devices are exactly what they sound like, gigantic pincers not unlike ones you’d find in a carnival game. Each independently operated claw measures 37m tall, 34m wide, and weighs 900 tonnes. They can also be used in conjunction with a set of cradles that are sunk to the seafloor ahead of a claw lift. The debris is first loaded into the cradle, then the the cradle itself is raised. This prevents the claws accidentally crimping a a multimillion dollar rig deck as it’s recovered.

See Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See early Humanoid Robots here.

1933 – “Tillie the Technocrat” Robot – (American)

"Tillie the Technocrat" robot, most likely inspired by Westinghouse's Katrina Van Televox of 1930. Although not a humanoid robot, like Katrina, the "robot" is anthropomorphised by a 2-dimensional cut-out figure. 

Caption: Junior High School Pupils Construct Robot
3 Feb 1933
During their spare time, pupils of May Cooke Junior High School in Philadelphia have constructed a robot, which they have named "Tillie the Technocrat". Tillie stands in front of her house, onto which a microphone is attached. Tones of the voice make Tillie open doors, and then turn on the lights or the radio. Above is a view of the unique robot. 

Caption: School Pupils Construct Robot
3 Feb 1933
During their spare time, pupils of May Cooke Junior High School in Philadelphia have constructed a robot, which they have named "Tillie the Technocrat". Tillie stands in front of her house, onto which a microphone is attached. Tones of the voice make Tillie open doors, and then turn on the lights or the radio – each performed as a separate action. Above photo shows George J. Lejune, instructor in charge of the electrical class at the school, with the box containing the speaking mechanism at the back of the house.

See all the Early Humanoid Robots here.


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1933 – Cocktail Robot – (American)

13 Nov 1933, New York, New York, USA — The law says "there ain't goin' to be no bar maids" the ubiquitous feminine cocktail shaker persists in appearing on the scene and here, essaying the role, is Miss Ruth Young, where she is demonstrating a helpful device for the cocktail lover and dispenser, the robot cocktail shaker. The girl and the machine were photographed by the Bartender's School at the Hotel Exposition in Grand Central Palace, New York. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


The Cocktail Robot is styled after the then well publicised Televox.

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