Posts Tagged ‘American’

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

1925 feb science and invention sm cover 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.

1925 Feb science and invention doctor future sm 1925   Teledactyl Remote Manipulator   Hugo Gernsback (German/American)
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:

1925 Feb science and invention radio teleview sm1 1925   Teledactyl Remote Manipulator   Hugo Gernsback (German/American)
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:

1925 Feb science and invention howto 1925   Teledactyl Remote Manipulator   Hugo Gernsback (German/American)
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.


 

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

robot walking bridge 1933 x640 1933   Giant Walking Bridge   M. Clemients (French)

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

robot walking bridge 1933 5 x640 1933   Giant Walking Bridge   M. Clemients (French)

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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caisson_(engineering). 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.

See all the known Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots here.

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

Illustrated World 1916 12 titan robot 1916   King Grey the Electric Titan   Vern 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.

electric titan 1916 prototype 1916   King Grey the Electric Titan   Vern Pieper (American)

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
ELECTRIC WAR TITANS.
THE FIRST MODEL ASTONISHED THE NATIVES.
It is highly improbable, as we have said before, that military "Tanks" will stop where they are. The invention is too revolutionery 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, demoralise, 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 equiptment of the armies of the future ?– "Popular Science Siftings."

See all the known Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots here.


 

1979 – “Tomaton” the Robot – Lenny Schectman (American)

TOMATON robot Lenny Schectman 79 press x640 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.
TOMATON robot Lenny Schectman 79 press 3 x640 1979   Tomaton the Robot   Lenny Schectman (American)
Control Box for TOMATON.

Schectman later built another robot called "Apollo" around 1983.

 1979   Tomaton the Robot   Lenny Schectman (American)
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.


 

1935 – Unknown Mechanical Man – (American)

mechanical man 1935 boston x640 1935   Unknown Mechanical Man   (American)

Source: (I've lost and been unable to relocate the source to this image. Please contact me if you do know the source.)

This early Robot may have been in the Boston area in 1935. It looks capable of standing and sitting, raising and lowering either arm, and appears to have microphones in its ears. Like most of this era, it most likely would have responded to a sequence of commands.  In its right hand is a pistol; a popular 'trick' at the time was to, upon a verbal command,  raise an arm and fire a gun.


See all the known early Humanoid Robots of this era here.