October 23, 2007

Robot of the Week: The Writer

Many writing automata were built and exhibited in the 18th century, but swiss clockmaker Jacquet-Droz's 1772 creation can truly be called one of the first computers; it could be programmed to write any message up to 40 characters long. After winding, The Writer dips a quill pen into the ink, shakes it, and brings it over to the page. The eyes follow along with what is being written, and the head moves when periodically dipping the pen back into the inkwell. It's currently on display at the Musee d'Art d'Histoire in Neuchatel, Switzerland, and is considered to be the most complex surviving robot of the 1700's. Click here for a more detailed examination of its mechanisms, and here for Jacquet-Droz's similar programmable creation, "The Drawer."

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