History Making robots
> ||5 January 2013|
The following were, no doubt, inspired in the first place by Zadoc P. Dederick's Steam Man announced to the public at least as early as January 1868.
Some are mentioned in Fantastic, Mysterious, and Adventurous Victoriana by Jess Nevins
1868 - John Brainerd's The Steam Man - fiction
Johnny Brainerd was the creation of Edward S. Ellis in "The Huge Hunter, or the Steam Man of the Prairies", which first appeared in Irwin P. Beadle's American Novels #45 (August, 1868) before being turned into a novel and reprinted many times over.
In the story Johnny Brainerd, a small, hunch-backed dwarf, on his mothers suggestion builds the Steam Man, ten feet high with a stove-pipe hat, which tows behind it a wagon in which Johnny Brainerd and any passengers ride and which carries the wood to feed the Steam Man. After building up a full head of steam it's capable of moving 30 miles an hour.
Fantastic, Mysterious, and Adventurous Victoriana by Jess Nevins http://www.reocities.com/jessnevins/vicb.html [Jan13] or archived here.
(Nevins' entry for John Brainerd is unfortunately marred by ending "Boilerplate A real-life Steam Man" which links to Big Red Hair's Boilerplate page.)
For further information on this work of fiction see http://www.bigredhair.com/steamman/index.html [Aug07]
Download the story from Project Gutenberg [Aug07].
1876 - Frank Reade's The Steam Man MkII - fiction
1879 - Frank Reade Jr.'s The Steam Man MkIII - fiction
Frank Reade was created by "Noname," aka "Harry Enton," aka Harold Cohen, and debuted in “Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, or, The Terror of the West”, Boys of New York #28, 28 February 1876.
Later Luis Senarens created Frank Reade Jr. in the story, "Frank Reade Jr. and His Steam Wonder" (Boys of New York #338-350, 4 February-29 April 1879) and much later, in 1899, Frank Jr. was succeeded by Young Frank Reade.
Frank Reade's Steam Man is much like that of Johnny Brainerd, only it has headlights. Better still, it is armed, shooting "fiery missiles" which dart "hither and thither like stars of fire" from "belts of fire at the neck and waist" of the Steam Man, its wagon is not covered and is two feet taller and can travel at a staggering 50 miles per hour.
Fantastic, Mysterious, and Adventurous Victoriana by Jess Nevins http://www.reocities.com/jessnevins/vicr.html [Jan13] or archived here.
For further information on these works of fiction see http://www.bigredhair.com/frankreade/steamman.html [Aug07]
1885 - Frank Reade Jr.'s The Electric Man - fiction
Nevins doesn't mention the Electric Man however
Luis Senarens using the pseudonym "Noname" wrote the story "The electric man, or, Frank Reade, Jr. in Australia" which was published by Frank Tousey, 1893. (Frank Reade library ; no. 37, v. 2). A copy is in the University of South Florida Library http://www.lib.usf.edu/ [Aug07]
[The electric man may have debuted in earlier Frank Reade stories.]
For further information on this work of fiction see http://www.bigredhair.com/electricman/index.html [Aug07]
1893 - Professor Archibald Campion's Boilerplate - fiction
This is entirely a 21st century creation of Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett on their Big Red Hair site http://www.bigredhair.com/boilerplate/index.html and only mentioned in error by Nevins (see above 1865 - John Brainerd's The Steam Man).
Why any educated person should choose to believe that an iron frame, burning coals, hot water and even hotter steam could accomplish in the 1800s what is still beyond our capabilities with 21st century technology is somewhat beyond my comprehension. Nevertheless there are many entries on the web which indicate people do think that the above robots were real rather than works of fiction.
In my opinion all the mechanism is there only for show, with the wheels and dials clearly placed to impress the viewer.
Furthermore note the robot stands just in front of a screen. I would guess that the robots head was really the head of an actor/accomplice, pushed through a hole in the screen with the screen edges disguised by the hair and the beard. The forearms could have been raised and lowered by the accomplice using the two ropes attached to the forearms and going over the shoulders.
Photos contributed by Reuben Hoggett.
There is the robot, also called "Televox", made by the engineer Eugene Wendling and exhibited in the Knie Circus. It is made to look like a giant in human shape and is constructed of sheet steel; it first apppears seated with its arms hanging down stiffly.It would appear from the dates that Harry May the inventor of Alpha got from Wendling's Televox the idea of his robot firing a gun.
"The mechanism is comparatively simple. When the current is switched on, the eyes become luminous. Two neon bulbs light up showing that the mechanism is about to work.
"Three photo-electric cells concealed in various parts of the chest operate amplifiers and motors, which are cornpletely independent of each other, so that three separate mechanisms can be distinguished in the robot.
"The operator holds a small electric flashlight in his hand and directs the luminous beam from it for a moment on one or other of the cells. The mechanical man responds to the action of the first cell by getting up from his seat, while the subsequent operations of the other cells, which work independently of each othermake him move his head and his arms." The robot stands up suddenly, looking to its left, then to its right, and gently lifts its right arm, which holds a pistol. After a moment's delay, during which it seems to listen, it directs its glance towards one of the corners of the room, waves its arm and fires. This performance always produces a lively reaction from the public.
Chapius Droz AUTOMATA
Photo contributed by Reuben Hoggett.
An entertainment or stage show robot almost certainly operated offstage by a hidden assistant.
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