Posts Tagged ‘Walking machine’

1915 – The Radium Destroyer – Hugo Gernsback (American)

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November, 1915
THE ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER by Hugo Gernsback.
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.


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1967 – Toy Space Crawlers – Various

After recently posting the entry on Vladimir Ischein's Walking Wheel (1983), I recalled having seen something similar. It turned out to be the toy "Space Crawler" of Major Matt Mason from 1967.  This toy led to several other toymakers making similar devices.

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1967 – Mattel's Major Matt Mason's Space Crawler

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Some Space Crawler Images sourced from here.

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When the going gets rough, Major MATT MASON rides across troublesome terrain  and dangerous crevices in his all-purpose vehicle, the SPACE CRAWLER!
Adfapted from official space program designs, the mighty transportation unit features eight rotating legs with curved power pads, so it always rights itself!
Major MATT MASON uses his SPACE CRAWLER as a winch to haul material and as a hoist to raise and lower supplies.
Turned on its side, the masterful machine rotates whenever its heavy-duty hook touches the tail boom.
Forward, neutral, raising and lowering accomplished by unique gear shift.

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Publication number    US3475854 A
Publication date    Nov 4, 1969
Filing date    Feb 3, 1967
Priority date    Feb 3, 1967
Inventors    Macmeekin Robert A, Meggs Daniel Henry, Ryan John W
Original Assignee    Mattel Inc

See also US3529479 for related Space Crawler Gearbox patent.


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Lunnik sourced from here.


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Space Safari


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Mark Apollo Space Crawler by Marx.


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Tri-Ang Moonmobile


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See other early Walking Wheels and  Walking Machines here.


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1923 – Walking Lunar Rover (Science Fiction) – Homer Eon Flint (American)

The vehicle in the book is described as being bee-like; when not flying, then walking.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the lunar rovers of science fiction were sometimes more humorous than scientific. Homer Eon Flint, in 1923, proposed in his novel "Out of the Moon"  what might be termed an ornithomorphic design.  It resembled a large, two-legged, bird like rover that walked across the Moon.  


Other related information:

In the book Devolutionist, space travelers experiment with Venusian methods of telepathic space travel. They leave our solar system to discover and explore the earthlike planet Capellette of the star Capella. In the Emancipatrix, they go to the planet Sanus of the star Arcturus. In both unique worlds, they become embroiled in the struggles and challenges of the inhabitants, and much more. This is Book Two of the Dr. Kinney adventures. (Summary by A.Gramour)

The above book cover shows the vehicle to be an ornithopter, but the landing gear (the legs) are not shown.

For a more recent walking ornithopter, see here.


Homer Eon Flint (1888 as Homer Eon Flindt – 1924) was a writer of pulp science fiction novels and stories. He began working as a scenarist for silent films (reportedly at his wife's insistence) in 1912. In 1918 he published "The Planeteer" in All-Story Weekly. His "Dr. Kinney" stories were reprinted by Ace Books in 1965, and with Austin Hall he co-wrote the novel The Blind Spot. Reportedly he died as a result of an involvement in a bank robbery attempt. According to his granddaughter the only witness, was himself a gangster.


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


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1901-3 – Walking Lunar Vehicle (Science Fiction) – Jerzy Zulawski (Polish)

Some of these early concepts for lunar exploration had elements of practicality; others were pure whimsy. One of the first, by Polish science-fiction writer Jerzy Zulawski (1874-1915), fell into the first category. His rover design appeared as an illustration in his 1901 tale "Szrebyym Globie" ["On the Silver Globe"] and featured full pressurization, electrical power, and two forms or propulsion: large, spoked wheels that could be interchanged with leg or "claws" mounted on a triangular framework that would be used to climb up mountains or travel over rough terrain. Zulawski's invention, like Boeing's real lunar rover, had a top speed of about 10 miles per hour. He also realised, like those who would follow his footsteps, that combustion engines wouldn't work on the airless Moon, and instead, chose to power his vehicle with an electric motor, and like most later concepts of Lunar Rovers, Zulawski's was a big vehicle with an enclosed cabin. His, he said, could carry a crew of five and a year's worth of supplies.
Zulawski's story was originally a serialisation starting in 1901, later published as a book in 1903.

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


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1916 – “King Grey” the Electric Titan – Fern 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.

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 revolutionary 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, demoralize, 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 equipment of the armies of the future ?– "Popular Science Siftings."

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 22, 1914

EXHIBITING MECHANICAL MAN,
Fern Pieper Shows Electric Man Who Could Walk Long Distances If Anyone Wanted Him to Do it.
At the room on Third street, in the Wuerker building, where the International Correspondence School is conducting an exhibit,  Ernest Harlow, the local representative, today put on exhibition the mechanical man which was built by Fern Pieper, one of the pupils of the school. Mr. Pleper is a mechanical genius and in his spare time has perfected many curious mechanical devices. One of these is the mechanical man. He hasn't put a head on the man as all that is needed for the present is the legs-the motive device. He plans to construct a nine foot high man, if anybody would engage the services of such a man, and let the mechanical man walk to the San Francisco Exposition. A man of such size as Mr. Pieper proposes would be able to haul a real man in a cart behind, who could guide the brainless mechanical man.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 25, 1914

A great many interested spectators today at noon witnessed some of the performances of the mechanical man built by Ferdinand Pieper, and equipped by him with electrical contrivances and devices calculated to make him go some. He is unlike "Percy the Mechanism Man" of the funny papers a few years ago, in that his conduct is more orderly. Percy was continually doing things to prove himself a natural outlaw, and all of the machinery that caused him to do things, when a button was pressed, was inside of him.

Ferd's mechanism man is not operated altogether by inside machinery. There is some behind him that assists materially in boosting him along. He claims to do nothing but walk. He was allowed to walk alone and unguided today for a distance on the sidewalk on Belle street, and he did the deed well. Weston, O'Leary or any other champion walker would not be on it with the Alton Percy as far as endurance is concerned anyway, and he gets over the ground rapidly too. As a walking advertisement for some big concern, the Alton Percy would be a winner. He could walk from ocean to ocean and from "Greenland's icy mountains" to Huerta's mescal land without acquiring a corn on his foot or a stone bruise by a toe. The model is not a very large one, but the size of the one that would make the transcontinental trip could be regulated to suit. He could be twenty feet high if desired.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 17, 1916

The whimsical conceit of an Alton inventive genius – a mechanical man – something that was built more as a form of amusement, may become a means of destruction, is the prophecy of a writer who is telling the story about the creature of Fern Pieper's mind. The "Grey King" of Alton has been given much space in the December issue of the Illustrated World, which has just been received at the Mather Book store. In addition to the write-up, the front cover shows the Grey King in action in battle, spitting death and destruction to those in front and on either side of him.

The Grey King is an iron man invented by Fern Pieper, and the story in the Illustrated World which puts Fern and the King before the scientists and inventors of the world, was written by Herbert C. Crocker of Edwardsville. It tells how the model created interest and excitement a few years ago when the inventor sent it out walking through the streets of Alton. That was only a model. A real iron man is now being fashioned in a St. Louis foundry and will soon be ready for action. The Illustrated World calls the invention an electric Titan and elaborates on the possibilities of the invention. With a flock of such men equipped properly, Uncle Sam could send this terrible army against an enemy, and each member of the flock would walk unhesitatingly into the ranks of that same enemy, mowing them down as the harvester mows down grass, and nothing they could do could stop the destruction or disable the walking iron men until the electrical apparatus that guided them broke or run down.

The article is certain to give Alton wide publicity, and it will give Fern Pieper a little, at least, of the credit that is due him. He is an inventor of great ability and merit, and a dreamer who will live to see some of his cherished dreams come true. Machines in war in Europe are the agencies winning the most battles, and it is not a far cry to equipping these machine-made iron men of Pieper's designing with bullet propelling apparatus. Iron that can be made to walk around like a man can be fixed to shoot like a man and with powers and immunity no mortal possesses.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 20, 1917

WHY NOT TRY A FLOCK OF THESE
Alton Iron Men as Destroyers In France, and Other Fighting Countries In Europe?
Several months ago the Telegraph published an account of the construction by Fern Pieper of a massive iron or steel man, who was equipped with internal machinery that kept him moving steadily in which ever direction he was started.
It was constructed by Mr. Pieper for advertising purposes or a commercial traveller, as it were, but some of the leading magazines of the country took the matter up and pointed out the possibilities of use and destruction the Pieper iron man could become in case the U. S. went to war with any other nation. The man's internal apparatus, it is pointed out in addition to the motive power (electric) could be equipped with rapid fire guns or shells, and the man or a flock of such men could be turned loose out the enemy and their advance could not be stopped or the work of destruction prevented by an army. The iron men would continue to advance and pour fire out of the port holes provided until the electric apparatus run down, while shot or shell of the enemy's army would have little or no effect on the iron men.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 13, 1918

MECHANICAL MAN BREAKS DOWN ON TRYOUT.
Man Who Did Not Understand Mechanism Got Machinery Out of Order and He Had To Be Pushed Home.
An "iron man" who can walk and may be a regular Percy, the mechanical man, was taken out for a walk Friday afternoon, by a man from St. Louis, who wanted to test out the man prior to closing a contract to have him rigged up to help roll Liberty Loan bonds. The man was in a shed at the home of Chas. Oehler, who has been perfecting the ground work laid by Fern Pieper, whose ideas originated the walking mechanical man. The St Louis man could not wait, it is reported, until Mr. Oehler could be found to take the man out for a walk and the result was a crank broke in the mechanism of the man. The mechanical man would not walk any further. A new crank was made and that was broken, too. Something had gone wrong. The mechanical man was at last pushed by six other men back to his shed where he will stay awhile. It was planned to use the man in parades to advertise the Liberty Loan. He could not be put in shape for use in Alton next Wednesday, it is feared, but the St. Louis man was so attracted by the possibilities of the man he wanted to use him in a hurry. The "man" walked to Ninth and Alby streets, where he stuck. He had previously been out walking on the streets at midnight, so he would attract less attention.

See here for images of the revised giant pulling a "Liberty" boat.


See other Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.