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Entries in mechanical negro (1)

Sunday
Feb142010

Rastus Robot, the Mechanical Negro (1931)

 

I love humanoid robots from the 1920s and 30s. They were going to fight our wars, drive our cars, and be gigolos for lonely women. In the early 1930s Westinghouse created a robot named Rastus, the "mechanical Negro." And what was Rastus going to do? Nearly take an arrow to the eye, it would seem.

The photo above appeared in the September 6, 1931 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) and shows Samuel Montgomery Kintner playing William Tell with the robot. The photo below is from the blog Dull Tool Dim Bulb, though I'm not sure who is pictured with Rastus.

Mr. S. M. Kintner, of the Westinghouse Research Laboratories, creates a mechanical Negro known as "Rastus Robot." Mr. Kintner is here enacting a modern scientific version of the famous episode of William Tell, who shot the apple from his son's head. In this demonstration a flash of light is sent out from a tiny bulb concealed in the arrow, the light is picked up by an "electric eye" on "Rastus," which ignites a charge of powder that blows the apple from the robot's head. The arrow does not leave the bow.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future: