Robots in Science Fiction and in Science.

The original Robby the Robot from “The Forbidden Planet” 1956 credit Bonham’s Auction House

In many old movies, robots played a significant starring role. In 1956, there was a movie called “Forbidden Planet” which featured a robot called cases in bioethics: This robot was popularly known as Robbie The Robot. and the mass media star further appeared in numerous movies and television shows, usually without any specific reference to the original film character. In 1965, a television show debuted called “Lost in Space”. One of the crew of the American spaceship named “The Jupiter 2” was a robot that was simply called “robot”. In one episode, that robot got into a fight with the Robbie the Robot character and then totally defeated him. 

Robby was built mainly of Royalite, an ABS plastic often used for luggage, by a team of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer designers and technicians for approximately $100,000. His electronics could be activated via an offstage control panel connected by a cable, or by an operator inside the costume who conducted the actual movement.

In 1951, there was the science fiction movie entitled: “The Day the Earth Stood Still” which featured a human looking man alien named Klaatu, and his soft spoken male robot named Gort come to earth in a flying saucer in Washington, DC to speak with world leaders about not to continue developing nuclear weapons, there will be nuclear wars, and the earth has been chosen by various planets to be destroyed if it keeps pursuing nuclear weaponry and nuclear war. Gort deals with rebellious, trouble making military police. At the end of the movie, a shot, dead, but revived Klaatu enters the flying saucer with Gort that then ascends into the sky out of sight. 

On the television show: “Star Trek, The Next Generation” (1987-1995), there is an android (a human looking robot) that is a man called “Mister Data” or simply as “Data”, who is a crew member of the star-ship Enterprise. 

There were also a number of popular toy robots many years ago, including “Robby the Robot”, The “Lost in Space” Robot, “Robot Commando”, “Mister Mercury”, and “Mister Machine”(a completely see through robot). And there were two small robot boxers, hand manipulated by pressing control panels, inside a boxer’s ring, called “The Rock ’em and Sock ’em Robots”. 

Back in the 1939 New York World’s Fair, there was “Elektro”, also spelled as “Electro”, a very tall male looking robot. Elektro was an automated voice robot that would do many things, some of which were to walk, talk while moving the mouth, count, sing, and smoke a cigarette while highly entertaining the vast crowds of people. The robot had a vocabulary of approximately 700 words; yet its verbal responses were all prerecorded and played back from hidden inside 33 and a third rpm records. Electro stood at 2.1 meters (6 feet  10.677 inches) in height and weighed 118 kilograms (260.145 pounds), and had newly invented electric motors.  

New York, New York, USA — 05/04/1940-New York: Sparko, a Westinghouse mechanical dog, rears back on his haunches and sniffs at a “hot dog” held by his creator, Westinghouse engineer J.M. Barnett. The aluminum-coated canine was brought into the world several weeks ago, after being in a “blueprint dog house” for one year. He gets his meals ordinarily from the nearest electric light socket. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

At the 1940 World’s Fair in New York, Electro the Robot was accompanied by “Sparko”, a very small dog robot based on the form of a Scottish terrier dog. Sparko would bark, wag his tail, sit up on his hind legs, tilt his head back and forth, and perform a “chase”. 

Both Elektra and Sparko were created by the American company called “Westinghouse Laboratories” and at one time later on in his showcase career. Electro even had the word “Westinghouse” written across the center of his body. 

Before Elektro was performing, Great Britain had their “Eric the Robot”, who, upon verbal commands, would sit, stand, raise a left arm, put down the left arm, raise the right arm, put down the right arm, and turn his head to the left side, face forward, turn his head to the right side, and face forward. 

In 1967, there was a life sized robot called “Slim The Mechanical Man”. Slim looked like a human man, and would talk from a prerecorded record system. Slim had some mobility of the face; the head, torso, arms, and legs. 

In 1966, Forrest J. Ackerman, (1916-2008), an actor, writer, and editor of the magazine “Famous Monsters of Filmland” created a long playing album entitled “Music For Robots” in which Mr. Ackerman narrated, mainly telling an imaginary story in the future, gradually going up to 2050, speaking about robots and their activities in society. The rest of the record has a seemingly “musical section” of the sounds of many electronic machines as “choruses”. 

For a number of years now, there have been human looking robots, full average human size, made in Japan with limited mobility and speech. 

Robots today that look like machines, can do all sorts of practical things from sweeping floors, then washing floors; vacuuming rugs, working with hazardous chemicals; substances including mixing, welding metals, measuring then cutting metals, hardwood, granite, or rock layers. In cases of very delicate, intricate repair work, as fixing broken watches, robots have been used. 

With space travel, robots are employed. Two machine looking robots, one called “Spirit” the other called “Opportunity” have traveled to the red planet Mars, took thousands of photographs, did a small number of experiments, grasped and then analyzed Martian soil samples, and traveled for miles and miles across the Martian sandy landscape; sometimes over rugged, rocky, stony and/or hilly terrain. 

Mars rover – NASA

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