Posts Tagged ‘Domestic Robot’

1973 – “Robbie” the Pulpit Robot – Rev. Ron Mackenzie (British)


1973 – "Robbie" the Pulpit Robot by the Rev. Ron Mackenzie




Sunday school with a difference: Helping the Reverend Ron Mackenzie is Robbie, the robot he designed and built himself 8 years ago. Robbie was built to help attract children to church and he has proved to be an enormous success.
Pic by Colin Harvey



London, England, 29th August 1973, Two little boys study a five foot robot built by their father Peter Stanley in the garden of their London home

[Note: The above Getty image, I believe, incorrectly, says the robot was built by Peter Stanley.]


“The Reverend Ronald John MacKenzie of the Elim Pentecostal Church, Nottingham, England, introduces his robot Robbie to some local children in the garden[…] MacKenzie uses Robbie as an aid in reaching and teaching children in his Sunday School classes.”

– (AP Photo,2013)


Robbies' eyes flash and his booming "voice" is a loadspeaker. The Rev. Ron Mackenzie spent 8 months using his old skills as an engineer to construct 5 ft. high, 18-inch square Robbie. Robbie has white eyes, a red nose, and lights on the top of his head to indicate when he is "thinking".



The Demonstration: Ron Mackenzie dons a protective coat for a lively demonstration of the bible story about the men who built their houses on sand and the firm rock. Standing by to help with the tale, is Robbie the robot, designed and built by the Reverend Ron Mackenzie for a Sunday School class in Croydon south London,
Pic by Colin Harvey





See other early Humanoid Robots here.

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1940 – “Roll-Oh” the Domestic Robot – (American)


1940 – "Roll-Oh" the Domestic Robot


"Roll-Oh" can grasp objects, has a retractable knife in its hand, as well as a plant watering system, a can opener, and a gas-flame lighter. Its foot is also a vacuum-cleaner.










Leave It to Roll-Oh (1940)

Tongue-in-cheek film showing a domestic robot freeing housewives of their chores (and intimating that their work is hardly necessary); actually a promo showing how relays and switches function in the modern automobile. Shown at the New York World's Fair in 1940.

This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives

Producer: Jam Handy Organization
Sponsor: Chevrolet Division, General Motors Corporation
Audio/Visual: Sd, B&W   Source: here

[Thanks to my friend David Buckley for the link to the extended video version]

'Roll-Oh" partial transcript

Cast:     Roy from Roy's Robot Repairs (R)
             Housewife (H)

R: There Miss, you see the heterodynes were feeding back into the stimulus reaction activators causing non synapse of the motor control resistor units.

H:  Oh, that's good.
R: No Lady, that's bad. But your re-generative circuits are tuned asynchronously and that causes concatenation in the intermediate amplifiers.

H: Well that's bad, isn't it?

R: No, that's good. From now on I don't think there'll be the slightest trouble with your robut. Your domestic problems are completely solved.

         Robot Controls

Answer Door      Clean House
Wash Dishes     Get Dinner
Answer Phone    Make Bed
Get Hat              Fix Furnace

See other early Humanoid Robots here.

See other early Domestic Service Robots here.

See other early Pseudo and Fake Robots here.





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1928 – “The Psychophonic Nurse” (Fiction) – David H. Keller (American)

“The Psychophonic Nurse”, by David H. Keller. Published in Amazing Stories, 1928

Illustration by Frank R. Paul.

The Psychophonic Nurse
A child-care robot – a nanny bot.

“I had her made by the Eastinghouse Electric Company. You see, she’s just a machine nurse, but as she doesn’t eat anything, is on duty twenty-four hours a day, and draws no salary, she’s cheap at the price I paid.”

“…let me show you how she works. She’s made of a combination of springs, levers, acoustic intruments, and by means of tubes such as are used in the radio, she’s very sensitive to sounds. She’s connected to the house current by a long, flexible cord, which supplies her with the necessary energy. To simplify matters, I had the orders put into numbers instead of sentences. One means that the baby is to be fed; seven that she’s to be changed…”

“…When I ordered this machine … I bought a phonograph with clock attachment. It will run for twenty-four hours without attention. Then I had a baby doctor work out a twenty-four hour programme of infant activity for different ages. Our baby is about two months old. You put this phonograph with the two-month record on it in the nursery… At definite periods of the twenty-four hours the phonograph will call out a number and the nurse will do what is necessary…

Article sourced from here.

[RH – one wonders how long baby would be in soiled daipers before the appropriate ‘number’ came up?]

The above fictional robot was inspired by the then new and wonderful Westinghouse Televox of 1927, which operated in s similar fashion.

See other early Domestic Service Robots here.

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1962 – Table-Clearing Robot – Meredith Thring (Australian/British)

"Working model of a table-clearing robot [Mk 2] designed to test the present-day feasibility of principles required for the house-working robot and other machines. The model has one 'sight' and two 'touch' sensors which enable the mechanical arm to pick up objects and place them on the rotating, clearing tray on top of the machine."


2065.27 | INVENTORS' EXHIBITION. London 13/01/1969

M/S table clearing robot. M/S as it lifts cup up from table. C/U cup being lifted from table and placed to one side. M/S as cup swings round to make room for another.

Clearing the table after a meal is a task which can be given to a robot. This one, like many other robots, does not have a human form like its counterparts in fiction. But it does its job well.

1. The mug is seen by a photoelectric "eye" and the "hand" is directed towards it.
2. Controlled by pressure sensors, the hand grips the mug firmly.
3. As the hand retracts, it puts the mug on a rotating turntable.

4. By its rotation, the turntable clears the mug out of the way. Far right: a close-up of the robot housemaid in action.

This table-clearing machine has a photoelectric eye which detects objects. This directs linkage; closes on them
lifts them back to the turntable.

Earlier Mk 1 version of Table-clearing Robot

Meredith Thring with his models of Domestic Robot

Cartoon from New Scientist, March 1963.

See other early Domestic Service Robots here.

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1966 – “The Bug” Floor Cleaning Robot from ‘The Glass Bottom Boat’ – (American)

In the film 'The Glass Bottom Boat', the inventor Bruce Templeton (Rod Taylor) tries to impress Jennifer (Doris Day) with his "Automatic floor-cleaning" robot after dropping banana peel on the kitchen floor. It only manages to pop out of its door to arc towards the dropped banana peel and through reversed footage, arc right back into its home under the kitchen end cupboard.

Bruce then sprinkles flour onto the floor, and the robot again pops out of its door, but this time, a telescopic tube 'nose' extends and sucks up the mess.

"We call it 'The Bug' ", says Bruce, "there'll be one in every home some day."

Jennifer accidentally burns the cooking, and the oven ejects the remains onto the floor, which activates 'The Bug'.

The rigid telescopic 'nose' transforms into a flexible tube for this scene.

'The Bug' returning to its 'house' with Jennifer's thong.

The Visual and Special-effects for this movie were done by J. McMillan Johnson and Carroll L. Shepphird.

This kitchen and robot appears to be inspired by RCA's Automatic Kitchen from 1959.

Note: I first became aware of this robot when researching my post on the Silent Running movie Drones where, from The Making of 'Silent Running',  Bruce Dern said,

"One of the keys to the film is the fact that are that they are not mechanical. The fact that here's a guy all by himself. He's looking at a box…… has no eyes, no mouth, no ears and yet it's alive, and there's something that I respond to as an actor, as a human being, and as a character in the film and that's what's its really all about. Somehow the fact that any little box or machine  I've always been scared of machines anyway, that can move around the floor and stuff. I saw a movie once,  "The Glass-Bottom Boat", it was terrible movie but Rod Taylor and it  had a little machine that cleaned up his kitchen, you know, that he pressed a button it came… [new part 2 from Youtube missing transition] …packing everything there and it scared the shit out of me, man. But I respected it, you know and I thought, that, well, he should talk to it, you know."

See other early remote-controlled and robotic vacuum cleaners and floor scrubbers here.

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