Posts Tagged ‘Man Amplifier’

1930 – Giant Mechanical Worker – Franz Hübl (Czechoslovakia)

The devices perform alternating and quite different mechanical works which are controlled by a person. The object of the present construction is to amplify the force of a man and perform different kinds of mechanical works which otherwise have to be performed by hand. The principal kind of works to be performed are digging, pile-driving, dredging, loading of freight, road- and railway  construction, cutting of trees, clearance of land, clearance of land, sawing, carrying of goods, lifting, and in fact, any kind of heavy work.  A novel concept is that of a kneeling man to keep it simple for the human operator.

There's no known evidence of it actually being built.

The description sounds similar to that of the later GE Pedipulator.

See Hübl's patent information here.

Patent number: 1880138
Filing date: Mar 13, 1930
Issue date: Sep 27, 1932


The modern day equivalent is probably Robosaurus.

See patent information here.

Patent number: 5052680
Filing date: Feb 7, 1990
Issue date: Oct 1, 1991

See all the known Teleoperators, Exoskeletons, Man-Amplifiers and Industrial Robots here.


1964 – Exoskeleton – Kultsar (American)

An early patent describing current exoskeletons was filed in 1964 (and issued in 1967) in the United States. Without using the specific term of exoskeleton, Emery Kultsar, the inventor, describes a "system of support and traction for 'body', designed to protect workers from extreme conditions (fire, explosions, fallen wreckage …). A design feature was that if the wearer became incapacitated, the exoskeleton would be able to walk itself out of the hazardous environment. This capability has only been achieved recently, and certainly required the advent of microcomputing which was non-existant in 1964. There is no record of this apparatus being built.


See fully patent here.

Patent number: 3358678
Filing date: Jul 29, 1964
Issue date: Dec 19, 1967


Self-contained, self-powered personal support systems providing upright structural support, upright equilibrium, and enhanced or supplemtal powered actuation of the wearer's limbs and extremities to aid his locomotion, with an outer suit enclosing an articulated structural framework supporting all parts of the wearer's body, having powered actuators providing articulated motion thereof, controlled by programed memory storage circuits through control circuitry governed by local or remote selective controls augmented by balance and proximity sensing systems to ensure the wearer's equilibrium, safety, and effective movement regardless of his physical condition.

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1956 – Powered Space Suit – Constantin Lent (American)

Constantin Paul Lent 3034131 MOBILE SPACE SUIT – see pdf here.

Patent number: 3034131
Filing date: Aug 7, 1956
Issue date: May 15, 1962

Although the suits key features were related to the aviator's 'needs' for long-duration flights, the invention predicted that as the air became more rarified the higher one could travel, the internal pressure of the suit would be such that the legs and arms would become taunt and inflexible necessitating outside assistance to move. To quote the inventor, "Before it is too late, it is necessary to plan now ahead of time for improvements in aviation garments and suits which not only may be safe, but also provide greater comforts. Interstellar navigation (a thing of the very near future) too needs better pilot suits."
The inventor mentions two of his seven requirements to allow "easy manipulation in a vacuum" and "it must have motive means to help the flexing of the limbs and arms in the suit." To achieve this, "the invention is to provide hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical means to help moving and flexing the extremities of the suit, the limbs, and the arms."

To put the date into perspective, on April 12, 1961, the Russian Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space, some five years following the filing of this patent.  There is no evidence to date that suggests this patent was realised.  Robert Heinlein published his book "Starship Troopers" in 1959.

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1986 – Power Loader from “Aliens” the Movie

The popularisation of “Man-Amplifiers” was largely due to the movie “Aliens” directed by James Cameron and released in 1986. Earlier scenes introduce it as it is, a power loader for heavy materials. Ripley later uses it as an equaliser for a “mano e mano” with the queen alien.

Earlier concept by Syd Mead.

Later designs by James “Jim” Cameron himself.


See the earlier 1967 “The Ambushers” movie with its Power Loader here.

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1978 – Jogging Machine – Shulman (American)

Jogging Machine Invented, Awaits Market .
Daytona Beach Morning Journal – Dec 15, 1978

 HYDE PARK. NY – Burt Shulman gently touched the throttle of the little machine strapped to his back. Suddenly he wasn't Burt Shulman at all, but Mercury about to become Icarus, a quiet mechanical engineer who was now the Match of Captain Marvel or maybe even Wonder Woman.
He was running, bounding at 15 or 20 miles an hour, on the road in front of his house and it looked so easy. It didn't seem to be going fast until a visitor tried to race him. But  the machine made Shulman zoom away as though the visitor were standing still.
With the engine off, sitting in his living room overlooking the Hudson River,Shulman, 26, spoke of many things he had invented- the gadget that blows smoke away from the noses of people who use soldering guns; the alarm clock radio that senses when it is going to snow or rain and wakens the sleeper earlier than usual; the tiny machine designed to help improve the circulation of deskbound executives by continuously moving their feet up and down; a device that permists motorists to breathe fresh air when they are caught in traffic jams, and even ultrasonic tweezers for the permanent removal of ingrown hairs.
But it is the jogging machine that everyone in these parts seems to know about because it can put the three minute mile within the grasp of flabby dreamers.
"I suppose that I really ought to call it a running machine," said Shulman. "I got the idea after my father bought one of those living room jogging machines. I thought, why not make a machine that would assist somebody who wanted to run outside?"
He took a one-horsepower, two-cycle engine, mounted it on an aluminum backpack, the sort worn by hikers, and added a lever that takes the engine's rotary action and provides a pushing action with pads against the thighs. When thigh muscles move that fast, it is relatively easy for calf muscles to keep up.
Shulman is not addicted to jogging but he keeps the machine for his own use and thinks it may have application for some disabled people who could walk if they had such a mechanical aid. The machine doesn't have to propel you quickly; it can work at much lower speeds.
But there seems no immediate prospect that Shulman's jogging machine – or any of his other inventions – will be mass produced in the near or even distant future.
Shulman, who earns his living by designing the housing of computer terminals at Internation Business Machines in Princton, N.J., sat and looked at a formidable pile of rejection slips he has received from companies that make cars, toys, athletic equipment and other products.
It seems as though the American inventor of yore – the lonely figure who built a better mousetrap in his garage, then made his fortune by selling it to a manufacturer – is having a rough time of it.
"Getting one's idea marketed is almost impossible," said Shulman. Companies talk of the 'HIH' factor when they receive ideas from outside. NIH stands for Not Invented Here and they would rather their own engineers created new ideas – not outsiders."
Shulman says manufacturers do this because it is far less expensive to pay staff salaries for reasearch and development than to buy ideas from freelancers that can cost millions of dollars. Nevertheless, Shulman says he plans to keep inventing things in the hope that some manafacturer will beat a path to his door.

There is a newsreel compilation clip that has an earlier version of a walking/jogging machine, but no preview. It was also shown on a movie called "Gizmo".

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