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Entries in robot (3)

Saturday
Aug202011

Smoking Robots of the Future (1931)

This picture of the bucket-headed Willie Vocalite appeared in the September 6, 1931 San Antonio Light. Designed by Westinghouse engineer Joseph Barnett, Willie appears to have been programmed with a fondness for nictoine. Early 20th century inventors sure loved to make robots smoke, (when they weren't shooting apples off their heads). So much so, that I'm surprised they didn't give Sparko his own robo-doggie cigs.

The mechanical man has been "humanized" in some respects and taught some of the manners of polite society. The Westinghouse robot shown in this photograph smokes cigarettes and obligingly "gives a light" to his companion. Another robot in Pennsylvania State College with a glass throat and water lungs puffs cigars all day long and reports scientific facts about tobacco which the most expert human smokers could not find out.

 

Friday
Jul012011

Miss Honeywell (1968)

Every new promise of futuristic technology brings with it the hucksters, the swindlers, and the merely confused. In the 1970s the three-wheeled Dale car was supposed to get seventy miles to the gallon, but both the car and its inventor were ultimately revealed to be frauds. In the 1930s American newspapers warned that a robot in England had risen up against its inventor and shot him.

In the mid and late 1960s a highly suspicious robot made the publicity circuit with its "inventor," magician Mark Wilson promoting everything from computers to blenders. With Wilson at the controls and a blue ladybot stiffly walking like a zombie to prove just how mechanical she was, it was quite a sight to behold. In this newsreel from 1968 the "robot" is known as Miss Honeywell and the narrator himself even calls into question the veracity of the operator's claims.

The "woman in a robot suit" stunt is so transparent as to likely be harmless, but you have to wonder how many people saw this robot's demonstration and thought it was real. As we know, there are still some children of the 1980's who think, thanks to Back to the Future II director Robert Zemeckis, that hoverboards were taken off shelves by overzealous child-safety groups.

The ad below of Miss Honeywell -- or in this case, the "housewife of the future -- appeared in the October 9, 1966 Oakland Tribune.

Come see the robot "housewife of tomorrow" plugged in October 10th to 15th.

The Hamilton Beach robot "housewife of tomorrow" will be demonstrated in our 15th and Broadway window. She is the amazing robot who is programmed to do all the cleaning. Watch the robot then come to the fourth floor housewares department to register for the free drawing for Hamilton Beach electric knives to be given away twice a day for each day of the demonstrations. Also demonstrations of Hamilton Beach's amazing blenders and carving knives.

Tuesday
Jun142011

Garco on Juke Box Jury (1954)

Garco the robot became Garco the music critic for the May 29, 1954 episode of Los Angeles TV's Juke Box Jury. Hosted by Peter Potter, the show appeared on KNXT (now KCBS) and featured a panel of celebrity judges who would critique the latest music releases. On this particular episode Garco appeared with Ann Robinson, Tab Hunter, Bea Benaderet, Gil Stratton, and Virginia Grey.

Asmiov only knows what Garco said during the episode, but the snippet that ran in the LA Times about Garco's appearance that night is below. 

I thought Peter Potter had flipped his lid when he called to say he had a robot on his Juke Box Jury panel tonight at 10:30, KNXT (2). But the more I think of it, the saner the idea sounds.

This robot is called "Mr. Garco." Actually, he's plugging a flicker which stars another robot. But Pete won't have to furnish him with too much orange juice, he probably won't be making passes at pretty Hostess Sue Alexander and he might come up with some out-of-this-world opinions of the records Pete will play.

Who knows, he might even bring a couple of flying discs for Pete to spin. He'll have help from such mortals as Ann Robinson, Tab Hunter, Bea Benadaret, Gil Stratton and Virginia Grey. They best be on their toes or Mr. Garco will.