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Entries in san antonio light (18)

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.

 

Wednesday
Aug032011

Doughboys become "iron boys" to fight wars of the future (1926)

Between 1918 end of World War I and the 1939 start of World War II, American newspapers sometimes ran stories about how robots would battle in wars of the future. Still shaken from the incredible death toll of World War I, people hoped for a time when robots would fight in the place of humans. Sometimes this was imagined as something to ensure that only your side wouldn't see casualties, but other articles predicted a time when wars would simply be decided by whatever nation's robots could conquer that of another nation's robots, leaving no human casulaties.

The December 25, 1926 San Antonio Light ran this illustration of the robot soldier of the future. The illustration is based on an unnamed mechanical man with RUR emblazoned on its chest. R.U.R., of course being the name of the play by Karel Capek that introduced the word "robot" to the English speaking world in 1921. The caption explains that doughboys of the future (a term for American soldiers fighting in WWI) might be called iron boys if they're one day replaced by robots.

Possibly in some grim war of the future the doughboy will have become the "iron boy." The army has enlisted its first mechanical man "Private Robot," and put him to work at Aberdeen proving grounds.

 

Saturday
Apr162011

Giant Babies of the Future (1937)

Many people in the 20th century assumed that the average citizen of the 21st century would be taller. However, a smaller (and for our purposes admittedly more entertaining) contingent assumed that advances in chemistry would breed hilariously super-sized babies. Having tipped the scales at ten pounds and ten ounces when I was born, it may be difficult to convince someone like my mother that this wasn't shockingly accurate; but we haven't quite reached Paul Bunyan proportions as a species just yet.

The article below from the November 21, 1937 issue of the San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) references the H.G. Wells novel The Food of the Gods. In the book, scientists create a chemical called "boomfood" which causes rats to expand to the size of ponies and makes people grow to be forty feet tall. The piece goes on to explain that Dr. Albert F. Blakeslee had created a new "elixir of growth" called colchicine which may bring about this super-sized world of the future. Of course, colchicine wasn't some magical elixir that would turn people to giants -- nor was it really even "created" by Dr. Blakeslee -- but it's certainly fun to think about what a world overrun with giant killer caterpillars might look like.

1937 Nov 21 San Antonio Light

Friday
Jan282011

Watching Television With My Robot Butler (1932)

The December 4, 1932 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran this illustration accompanying a piece titled, "Looking Ahead Another 50 Years." 

TELEVISION -- The husband at home in bed is able to sweep the mechanical eye through the shopping district and see what his wife is doing. He also has all sorts of appliances for supplying almost anything he needs, including a robot valet, who is seen approaching with his master's suit of clothes.

Early visions of television often imagined live broadcasting without any narrative arc, like from this 1930's collectible card that we looked at a few months back.

Previously on Paleofuture:

Tuesday
Jul062010

Will Humanity Annihilate Itself? (1939)

The March 29, 1939 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran this teaser for an article that was to appear in the April 2nd issue of The American Weekly.

At first glance, I had assumed that the ad was referencing this article that we looked at from 1935, but upon closer inspection it would seem they simply used the same drawing of a robot soldier from Erik Nitsche. Maybe if I track down the actual 1939 article from Professor C.M. Joad I'll straighten this whole robotic mess out. Until then, enjoy the pictures (...of an uber-dystopian, sentient robot hellscape!)

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Apr252010

Tommy Edison Builds Secretary Knox a Robot (1909)

The only thing I might love more than robots of the 1920s and 30s are robots from before the word "robot" was coined in 1922.

Now, I won't pretend to understand what's going on in this illustration. Like most editorial cartoons that I stumble upon while searching newspaper archives, I have no idea what's happening here with Secretary Knox and his mechanical, moustachioed man of political obfuscation. Though, on its surface, we might call this "same as it ever was."

Source: October 22, 1909 San Antonio Light and Gazette (San Antonio, TX)

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

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: