Posts Tagged ‘American’

1915 – The Radium Destroyer – Hugo Gernsback (American)


November, 1915
Front cover -"THE RADIUM DESTROYER" from a painting by Thomas H. Wrenn. (typo- actually Thomas N. Wrenn)
Warfare of the Future
The Radium Destroyer
THE European War has clearly demonstrated what a tremendous part modern science plays in the offense as well as in the defense of the contending armies. It has often been said during the past twelve months that this is not a war so much of men as of machines. Nothing could be truer. In fact, it might be said that this is a war of infernal machines against more diabolical machines.
It has been stated editorially in this journal that there will be war always, or at least till we arrive at a period when some scientific genius (or shall be call him devil?) invents a machine which at one stroke is capable of annihilating one or several army corps. When that time arrives, soldiers, no matter how courageous, will think a long time before they will offer themselves to be slaughtered by the hundred thousand.
In the meantime, probably for many generations to come, the war death-dance will go on without any doubt whatsoever. Humanity simply has not advanced to such a state where disarmament is possible. Our real civilization only dates back less than 100 years, and as human progress is extremely slow, it may take a thousand years and more before humans will learn how to trust each other implicitly. As long as we require policemen and jails to keep us out of mischief, we are not able to take care of ourselves and we cannot call ourselves emancipated—we are still held in bondage by the brute in ourselves, which threatens to break out at any opportune moment, as is witnessed in the present war.
Therefore, the pacificists, particularly those in our country who think that this is the "last war" and who go around shouting peace at any price, are not only a sorry lot, but they are cheerfully oblivious of the teachings of history as well as of human evolution.
These good people would shout murder if you dared suggest to them to dismiss at once all policemen and patrolmen of their home town, but they would trust a strange nation implicitly from making war on this country, simply because that nation pledged itself on a piece of paper not to make war
If the present war is ghastly with its poison shells, its deadly chlorine gas, its bomb-throwing aeroplanes, its fire-spraying guns, its murderous machine guns, etc., what can we expect of the wars of the future?
What will happen when the scientists of a hundred years hence begin making war on each other?
Suppose that by that time our scientists have solved the puzzle of the atom and have succeeded in liberating its prodigous forces. Imagine that at that time one atom can be disintegrated at will, instantly into another, what will happen? The results will simply be overwhelmingly astounding and almost incomprehensible to our present minds.
It has been calculated that if we could liberate the latent energy at present locked up in a copper one cent piece we would be enabled to propel a train with 50 freight cars over a distance of 600 miles!
Now, then, bearing this in mind, let us imagine that 100 years hence some scientist invents a means to unlock atomic forces, and how to control them. We can see him stepping to the throne of his future War Lord (if such still exist then), addressing him in this fashion: "My Lord, with the means of my invention the world is yours; will you make yourself the first Master of this Planet?"
The War Lord promptly asks for a secret demonstration of the new "Atomic Gun," and what he sees intoxicates his imagination to such a degree that he decides to make war on the entire world as soon as his generals have assured him that enough atomic guns have been manufactured to make success certain. And one beautiful spring morning our War Lord finds a perfectly logical pretext to make war on a few nations, and the latest war dance is on.
Within a few hours the first atomic gun. popularly known as the "Radium Destroyer, has crossed the enemy's frontier.
The Radium Destroyer is mounted on fast moving auto trucks and is controlled entirely by Radio energy. No man is within a mile of the Destroyer—it is too dangerous to be near it when in action. A young lieutenant with phones clapped over his head and who follows the Destroyer in the "Control Auto," and who gets his own orders from the General Staff by Wireless, guides each and every motion of the distant Radium Destroyer simply by moving certain keys and switches in front of him.
Soon his Destroyer has arrived in front of the enemy's first line of concreted steel trenches, protecting the land behind them. In front of the trenches the ground has been purposely cut up to impede the progress of ordinary vehicles. The General Staff, of course, knew this, and built the Destroyer accordingly. Our friend the lieutenant stops the Destroyer's truck and moves a lever. Immediately the Destroyer hops from the truck and begins to jump with amazing speed over the cutup ground, in grasshopper fashion. A few hundred feet from the well-concealed concrete trenches the Destroyer is made to halt. Our lieutenant moves a few switches, turns a knob and presses a key—then lot the inferno begins.
A solid green "Radium-K" emanation ray bursts from the top of the Destroyer and hits the concreted steel trench. Our front cover gives but a faint idea of what happens. The Radium-K emanation has the property of setting off spontaneously the dormant energy of the Atom of any element it encounters except lead. So when the ray hits the trench it went up in dust, concrete, steel, men and guns behind it, everything. After spraying the trench lengthwise for a few minutes it is gone completely. Only a dense cloud of vapor hanging in the air remains.
The fleet of Radium Destroyers now enters through the gap, destroying everything in their path. No gun can hit the Radium Destroyer for ere the gun can get the proper range, the Radium-K Ray has hit the gun or the ground below it and has sent it up in vapor, including the men behind it. As a demonstration, the Commanding General asks that the first town encountered, a city of 300,000 souls, be vacated within three hours. The terrorized inhabitants are forced to comply with the request, whereupon a dozen Destroyers line up on the hills and spray the unlucky city with their fearful rays. Within five minutes the entire city, houses, churches, bridges, parks and everything else have gone up in a titanic Vapor cloud; only a vast crater in the ground where the thriving city one stood remains.
After this demonstration the enemy sues for peace; resistance would be folly. The country is conquered. Within a fort night the War Lord has conquered the entire world and has proclaimed himself as the First Planet Emperor.
What happens afterwards when the secret of the Radium Destroyer is discovered by the War Lord's enemies is another chapter, so we will desist !
The above may read very fantastical and extremely fanciful. It is, however, not only very possible but highly probable. Modern Science knows not the word Impossible.

See other early Hopping and Walking Machines here.

1960 – “Beauregard” the Robot – Tom Graham (American)


1960 – "Beauregard" the Robot by Tom Graham.


There are 17 buttons on the control panel, which Tom uses to make the mechanical man do his bidding. Aided by his machinist dad, the lad labored for 15 months to perfect the robot.

Operating a 17-button control panel, Tom Graham is able to make his home-made automaton move about the room on rollers, move its head, swing its arms, pick up objects and blink its eyes.


"You called, Master?" is what "Beauregard" the robot seems to be saying to Tom Graham, 13, as the latter awakens at home in Madison, Tenn. The youngster utilized junk parts to build his unusual playmate. 27 Feb, 1960.

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When it's time for "Beauregard" to get a little fresh air, Tom needs a helper to get the tin can man outside. Here, Ronnie Smith assists in toting the 100-pound automaton. The rollers beneath the robot's feet require a level surface, so it's seldom taken from the house.

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Source: Buffalo Courier-Express Pictorial, April 24, 1960.

Junk Man

Most boys enjoy a good scrap, but Tom Graham prefers a scrappy playmate who doesn't fight back. Using junk parts, the inventive Madison, Tenn., youngster has built a mechanical pal that's tough as metal but gentle as a kid brother. Aided by his machinist dad, 13-year-old Tom took 15 months to build and perfect his robot playmate. Named "Beauregard," the automaton can "walk" across the room on rollers, pick up objects and blink his two green eyes. It is constructed of old lard cans, coffee cans, an oil drum and discarded furnace pipes. Powered by four castoff electric motors, the robot's innards are a maze of chains, wheels and assorted wires.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.

1959 – “DUHAB” – Lawrence Lipton / Bill Riola (American)

1959 – "DUHAB" (Detector of Undesirable HABitués) by Lawrence Lipton / Bill Riola.


Photograph caption dated December 5, 1960 reads, "Electronic Cat Detects Subversives for Beatniks. Duhab accompanies poet-author Lawrence Lipton to weed out undesirables."
Image source: The Los Angeles Public Library.
Lawrence Lipton was talking to the Valley College Writer's Club.

Source: The beatnik DUHAB robot

    Posted By: Scott Harrison | February 7, 2012

July 19, 1965: The original published caption reported:

GADGET FOR TODAY–Author Lawrence Lipton, chronicler of the beatnik scene, demonstrates his “robot,” Duhab (Detector of Undesirable HABitués). Lipton says robot ferrets out the undesirables – including censors, book-burners.

By 1965, media outlets were reporting the beatnik era over. Not so, claimed Lipton, whose 1959 best seller, “The Holy Barbarians,” chronicled the Venice scene. As quoted in a Times article by staff writer Doug Mauldin, Lipton explained, “What happened is that the artistic element has gone underground. Artists, writers, painters and avant-garde filmmakers live and work in their own pads.”

“And there are two or three times as many true beats here as there were in the 1950s when they were getting all the publicity.”

But, as pointed out in Mauldin’s story:

He (Lipton) is particularly bitter about past campaigns to rid Venice of the Beatniks.

“The Venice West beat scene was the most promising attempt ever made to bring avant-garde culture to Southern California, and it was murdered by self-righteous, puritanical busy-bodies and hostile police,” he said.

The above portrait of Lipton accompanied Mauldin’s story in the July 29, 1965, Westside Edition of the Los Angeles Times.


Source: Venice West: The Beat Generation in Southern California by John Arthur Maynard – 1991, p 123
Larry Lipton, as "director of entertainment" for the Gas House, seemed torn between wanting to win and wanting to be right. Shortly after one of the police commissioners told him he had a responsibility to keep "undesirables" out of the Gas House, Lipton returned with an extraordinary contraption which he solemnly described as an "electronic doorman." Built to his specifications by the Gas House light crew and decorated by Bill Riola, it was a primitive but functioning robot with a little popeyed face, a built-in tape recorder, and an incredible array of sirens, whistles, bells, and flashing red lights. "Duhab"—short for "Detector of Undesirable Habitués"-was described as being able to sense the approach of "teenage werewolves, dope addicts, sex fiends, subversives, alcoholics, and homosexuals (male and female)," and members of the Venice Civic Union-in which event, all of its alarms were set to go off at once. Duhab made good theater, but bad hearing strategy; it helped make Lipton himself the issue, and gave the hearing examiner, Officer Thomas Mulhern, the opportunity to focus on the "moral character" of those who would be directing "the proposed entertainment."

Source: The Van Nuys News (Calif.), Sunday, Oct. 18, 1959   
Two-Week Delay Ordered in Venice 'Beatnik' Hearings
The West Venice "Beatniks" will have to wait two weeks before their request to have a City Police Commission examiner disqualified will be considered.
The commissioners refused Wednesday to discuss charges of prejudice against examiner Thomas Mulherin, who conducted hearings for an entertainment licence at a beatnik "culture center" known as the Gas House and located in West Venice.
Cries "Unfair!"
President John Ferraro said the disqualification charges will not he discussed until all commissioners have had a chance to study the transcript, which includes more than 1000 pages of testimony.
Atty. A. L. Wirin, representing Atty. Al Matthews, owner of the Gas House, told the commission that he was being treated unfairly and that he had been told the matter would be on Wednesday's agenda.
Ferraro speculated that it would be two weeks before the commissioners will he prepared to discuss the matter.
In a brief filed last week, Wirin accused Mulherin of "unfair and prejudicial conduct" in conducting hearings on an application for an entertainment permit at the Gas House, 1540 Ocean Front Walk.
Wirin, accompanied by Matthews and beatnik author Lawrence Lipton, was not permitted to discuss the matter at all at Wednesday's session.
Complaint Detailed
Before the session, Wirin said he would base his arguments on three main points brought out by earlier hearings in which he claims Mulherin showed "prejudice and bias" against the beatniks. They are:
1—That Mulherin said he doubted whether Lawrence Lipton, author of "The Holy Barbarians," knew the meaning of the word "moral."
2—That Mulherin said he doubted—after reading Lipton's book—that Lipton was a responsible person to manage entertainment at the Gas House.
3—That Mulherin accused Lipton of injecting the racial issue into the hearings when, Wirin said, it was the commission's representative who injected it into the hearings prior to Lipton's testimony.
Wirin said he will cite numerous items in the transcript of earlier hearings to support his motion to disqualify Mulherin.
Have Poetic Robot
The newly-formed defense committee for Culture in Venice, headed by Robert Chatter-on, announced that several mass meetings will be held to raise money for the entertainment license fight. At these meetings, typical Gas House entertainment programs will be offered, it was stated.
One of the meetings will be held in the Gas House, but a beatnik robot—that writes and recites poetry with music—will be used.
"The idea." Chatterton explained, "is that a robot does not rate as 'live entertainment,' which the police have banned at the Gas House, pending the license hearings.
Names New Device
The beatniks promised to bring to this afternoon's hearing the bearded and sandaled Duhab, the electronic robot "detector of undesirable habitués," which Lipton said is capable of "screening out alcoholics, dope fiends, teenage werewolves and other undesirables at the door, thus evading the wrath of the Venice Civic Union.
"A new detection device has been added since Duhab was unveiled last week," Lipton added.
"It is a set of heavenly chimes that sound on the appearance at the Gas House door of any member of the Civic Union."

See the full list of Fake and Pseudo Automatons and Robots here.

1965 – “Mr. Obos” the Robot – Lou Nasti (American)


1965 – "Mr. Obos" the Robot by Lou Nasti (upper right).


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New York Times, March 20, 1965 – By PHILIP H. DOUGHERTY – Print Headline: "So What Else Is New? A Robot Makes Debut on Flatbush Ave."

So What Else Is New? A Robot Makes Debut on Flatbush Ave.

ROBOT IN RESIDENCE: Mr. Obos blinks his many lights at the electronic direction of his inventor, Louis Nasti, in the basement of the Nasti apartment house in Flatbush. Besides blinking, robot walks, talks and moves arms.

The other fellows around East 38th Street and Flatbush Avenue have had a pretty busy winter, what with shooting pool at Cannon's, going to dances and all that.
But where has Louis Nasti been? He's been in the basement of the Styling by Silhouette beauty parlor every free minute, and what he's been doing has really become a neighborhood topic. No wonder, for how many fellows are building 6-foot 5-inch, copper-colored robots around Flatbush Avenue these days?
Mr. Obos (he's the robot) was showing off the other night in the basement of 1866 Flatbush Avenue that he shares with a furnace. Nineteen-year-old, 5-foot 4-inch Louis was at the lecternlike, 23-switch control panel as Mr. Obos, in a deep, taped voice, ticked off his physical assets.
"I can do 11 different things." bragged Mr. Obos, antenna twirling as blue eyes and red nose blinked.
"He's great," interrupted Mrs. Marie Nasti, her plump 5-foot frame unable to hold all of her pride. It was not clear whether she was speaking of her son, the inventor, or the invention.
"There are 100 lights outlining my body and 475 feet of running wire from the back of my leg to my controls," continued Mr. Obos with some satisfaction.
Mr. Obos's chin flapped and torso spun in half circles on its marble-mounted waistline as nine little electric motors whirred silently.

"It comes apart in five pieces," young Louis said, leaping to open Mr. Obos's right ankle where a 21-foot power-bearing cable enters the body. The wires are connected to a cable, the cable is connected to a switch panel, the panel is connected to an outlet — oh hear the word of Con Ed.
"It looks sharp in the dark." said young Louis, a thin, well-dressed young man with wavy black hair, interrupting both his mother and Mr. Obos.
Louis explained that he built the robot for the employees' hobby show at Abraham & Straus, where he is in home furnishings display. "They really like me there." he said. Louis has also built a coffinlike box for Mr. Obos and plans to move him to the store today.
Upstairs in the Nastis' three-room apartment (father Attilion was still at work), Louis talked of some of the other thing's he has built, including a robot who did the twist.
"When I was at Midwood High School (he was graduated in 1963) I built a rocket and a radar interceptor—had two airplanes take off and actually collide in the classroom." he said.
Now that Mr. Obos, who got his name from Sobos glue, is finished and all the papier-mache in place and painted on its body of five-gallon oil cans, Louis feels let down. "I went down to the cellar and just sat and looked at him last night." he said.
But he has future plans. "I think," Louis said, "I'll build a family of robots-remote controlled with radio waves-that look like soldiers, not robots." There was a faraway look in his eyes.

Thanks to Lou Nasti and colleague Bob Kovacs in providing the New York Times article.


Lou Nasti, looking rather like Disney's Geppetto, set up his animated display's business in 1969 and is still going strong. See Animated Displays Inc.

He has a robot called Rodney.

Comment source: here. c2013.

Lou Nasti is famous for his animated window displays. His work is very amiable and seems like it appeals to the younger audience, however can be a fun experience for all ages. Enjoyment and entertainment is found everywhere in his displays. His “Santa’s workshop” can be found in Brooklyn commonly known as Lou Nasti’s Brooklyn company, Mechanical Displays Inc. He is well known for creating displays that have holiday themes and bring out the fantasy in every holiday, such as Santa Claus and his elves. These famous displays can mainly be found in department stores such as Macy’s.

His famous career started as a teenager when he started as a window dresser. His fame up roared when he created a talking and walking robot. His work is amazing and is viewed by many every year. However the main obstacle for Lou Nasti every year is putting up a Christmas tree in his own home. Despite this obstacle, he still creates the best displays filled with imagination. His displays circulate around the country, that’s how good he is.

Another important obstacle that not only Lou Nasti faces but department stores face is online shopping and how it has affected businesses in stores. It’s up to Lou Nasti to work night and day to change this and help boost up this line of work. His theme seems to be “bigger is better.” Lou Nasti continues to work hard, recently creating a huge children’s train ride through a sprawling peppermint forest for the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky. However, his foremost project is to create a life sized theme park named Nasti Land.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.

1954 – “Sylvania Sam” Promotional Robot – (American)

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1954 – "Sylvania Sam" Promotional Robot.


The "Sylvania Sam" Promotional Robot was a 9-foot tall talking "electronic" robot that tells you all about pink "Softlight" bulbs.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.