Electro the Robot was a hit at the Westinghouse Pavioion at the 1939 World's Fair

 

 

 

Promotional art featurnig actess Anne Francis and Robby the Robot from the 1956 movie "Forbidden Planet".

 

The term robot derives from the Czech word robota, meaning forced work or compulsory service, or robotnik, meaning serf.

 

We are five years into the 21st century. When do the robots arrive? In the midpoint of the last century, scientists, futurists, writers, artists, cartoonists, and philosophers began predicting that as early as the 21st century, human sized robots will eventually arrive to "do the dirty work of humanity", to "serve man" by performing arduous, dangerous, unclean, and repetitive tasks, freeing humankind to pursue a life of fulfillment, enlightenment, and leisure. Our robots would be slaves, workmates, and soulmates. They would be programmed with false emotions and look just like us. They would serve as sex slaves and surrogate selves. When we look around, we do see "machines" called 'robots' which assemble automobiles. There is a company called U.S. Robotics, but their "products" page merely lists computer modems and routers. There is a scientific field called "robotics". The dictionary definition of "robotics", however, doesn't mention human sized servants. "ro·bot·ics [ ro bóttiks ] noun : design and use of robots: the science and technology relating to computer-controlled mechanical devices, for example, the automated tools commonly found on automobile assembly lines. When most people hear the word "robot" or "robotic" they immediately think of the "Three Laws of Robotics" written by science fiction writer Issac Asimov in 1940 in his very first book of short stories, "I, Robot". But Asimov didn't first come up with the idea of the "robot". In fact, as with most of human thought, the origins can be traced back to early history.

Egyptian and Sumerian cultures 5000 years ago told legends where gods would "breathe life" into inanimate statues."The Golem" from Paul Wegener's 1915 German silent film, is a clay figure which is brought to life by Kabbalistic means. The "Golem", a clay figure brought to life by Kabbalistic means, is a Hebrew myth that is mentioned in the Talmud. Homer's epic poem, "The Iliad" mentions "mechanical servants". The idea of a "mechanical servant" is ancient. In the 13th century, the advancement of clockwork gave birth to "automata", sometimes very intricately designed mechanical artworks which sometimes incorporated the human form. The automata were not true "robots", and the term had yet to be imagined. The word "robot" can be traced to it's first usage by the Czech playwright Karel Çapek in 1918 in a short story and again in his 1921 play R. U. R., which stood for Rossum's Universal Robots. In the first of many stories revolving around the theme of mechanical rebellion, in the play R.U.R., Rossum creates a race of mechanical servants who rebel, dominate mankind, and eventually wipe out the human race.

 

Throughout the 20s and 30s, the concept of the robot on a rampage permeated fiction, both in literature, and in the burgeoning new film industry. The Mechanical Men from the Flash Godon serial: 1936From the low budget Flash Gordon serials to mainstream movies, the robot began to get popular. Issac Asimov wrote "The Rules of Robotics" in 1940 partly to levy a set of "rules" that would change the standard rampaging robot story, by injecting some philosophical thought into the concept. "I, Robot" tells the story of Dr. Susan Calvin, who reminisces about the history of the robotic race she developed for her company, which manufactures them.

Asimov's "rules" set the stage for a period of docile and helpful robots, including misunderstood robots. Robots wanted to be human, and they missed their nonexistent emotions. Asimov had coined the term "robopsycology." Soon the robots were pretending, just like Pinnochio, that they were real beings, and not just walking toasters.

At the dawn of the 50s is when robots really ruled. The actual science of robotics really gained force with the creation of better computers during the decade, and great strides were taken, not only in the real world, but in the robot literature and movies of the time. The big news for "real robots" was computers. As processing power shrunk, so did the size and the unweildyness of programmable robotic arms.

Asimov experimented with real robots. The "real thing" looked like a vacuum cleaner or had wheels, like Shakey. In the 60s, "Shakey", used memory and logical reasoning to solve problems and navigate in its environment. It was developed by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Palo Alto, California.

The real robots resembled peaceful battlebots, and yet more troubled, and troubling robots were receiving artificial life in the movies and in literature. In 1951, Robery Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was a cautionary tale about the atomc age. It concerned a man from outer space whose robot Gort figured prominently in the plot. The most famous movie robot of the fifties, however, is Robby the Robot from the movies "Forbidden Planet" (1956) and "The Invisible Boy".(1957) The familiar sound of Robby's inner "brain" working, as antennas twirled and switches clicked, was a familiar staple in science fiction throughout the 50s and 60s.

As movie robots came closer to looking like human beings after a while, the real robots seemed to be stalled as long as it took so much space to run computer programs.

This website, created not by a robot but by Michael F. Nyiri, for the most part over one weekend on February 12th and 13th, 2005, is divided into six sections.

The first section, "Robots in the Real World" details the history of robotics, and shows that those friendly but dissatisfied humanoid denizens of the future are really hydraulic multi jointed arms and small R2D2 like wheeled boxes and cannisters that look nothing like a human being.

The second section, "Robots On Parade in Pop Culture", which is still under construction, will show the many robots with which we are familiar through exposure on television and in the movies.

The third section, "Robots in Literature" lists the many instances in whichrobots show up in poems, plays, novels and short stories throughout history.

The fourth section tells the story of "The Honda "Asimo" robot, who is the inspiration for this website. In 1986, technicians at Honda began to engineer a way in which "two legged locomotion" could be accomplished. In December 2004, with the introduction of the eleventh generation of the Honda robot, the Asimo proves that it can run circles around the competiton.

Section Five is the showcase for the robotic computer "Composited Artwork of Michael F. Nyiri", the webmaster, who is solely responsible for the entire AllThingsMike Universe of websites, and whose computer art composites have graced his pages since 1999.

Lastly, in another art tribute in the sixth section, artist Hajime Sorayama, whose sexy images of very sleek silver female robots as well as more conventional pinup art. is profiled, and a rather nice sampling of both his robot and nude female art is presented. This section, although fully artistic, and not intended for purient or immoral purposes, does contain images of the nude female form, and if this is considered offensive, the image thumbnails should not be clicked, or they will open up luscious visages of the undraped female form on your computer.

This website is under construction. It is now 7:27 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 13th, and I am preparing to tidy up what I have already created, post notes that other pages are in fact not finished, and load the whole thing online on my server, if time permits, so I can say I've constructed another website in a weekend. This website would not exist if not for the many other websites dealing with robotics that provided inspriation and all the images therein. The individual sections contain links to these websites. Some of them are The History of Robots, Roger Clark's essay on Asimov's Laws of Robotics, Adam Currie's history of robots, Arrick Robotics Real Robot Manufacturer, GoRobotics.net, The Honda Humanoid Robot Asimo, and the Robotic and Pinup art of Sorayama. No text or image has been used without an attempt to credit the original user, writer, or artist. Hopefully all copyright issues are being adhered to, and if there are any questions or comments, please contact the webmaster.

 

 

 

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AllThingsMike ©,Cultural Blender ©, ElectricPoetry © 1999-2005 MikeVideo Enterprises and Michael F. Nyiri. All original essays, poetry, and art are copyrighted, and cannot be used without permission. The author is pleased to see his words on the pages distributed by others, but only if permission is granted. All popular cultural and news images are taken from the internet in general, and no copyright enfringement is implied by the use of these images. Some images used in composites might be copyright, but all attempts to identify and credit all images is ongoing. If you see words or images that are not credited correctly, please email the webmaster

Robots is part of the AllThingsMike Webhub Artwork for the logo and the navigation bar is by Sorayama and is copyrighted material.

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