Victorian-Era Robots Documented

Posted 24 Feb 2007 at 16:11 UTC by Rog-a-matic Share This

Steam Man, Electric Man, Automatic Man, and the incredible Boilerplate - Obscure histories of these 19th century mechanical marvels are documeneted in unbelievable detail, complete with enhanced tin-types, eye-witness accounts, and particulars about their inventors by Paul Guinan. Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Gene Roddenberry would be proud!

Happy but Untrue!, posted 24 Feb 2007 at 19:29 UTC by Nelson » (Journeyer)

...As opposed to sad but true.

One of the reasons why I think that robotics is going absolutely nowhere is becuase there is so much unrealistic hype and so little reality.

I have to give Mr Guinan credit for his photoshopping talents and his imagination that have almost turned his hoax into an artform.

However, what is truely most disturing are the large number of people who are taken in, and don't have the slightest clue that this is wonderful fiction that happens to be sitting on the wrong shelf of the library.

fictional robots, posted 24 Feb 2007 at 22:15 UTC by steve » (Master)

We get lots of story submissions about Boilerplate and his fictional friends. It probably can't hurt to emphasise that these are not (and never were) real artifacts. The robots on Paul's site are a combination of entirely recent and fictional creations, and images from turn of the century pulp magazines that illustrated fictional stories. Paul's website presents this stuff as if it is documentation of actual historical events, which can be confusining to those who don't realize it's intended purely as entertainment.

Robots just wanna have Fu--un!, posted 25 Feb 2007 at 03:30 UTC by Rog-a-matic » (Master)

Maybe I was a little too subtle with my wording "unbelievable detail" and the list of proud fiction writers.

Anyone willing to go to the effort of a simple search for "Boiler Plate Robot" will find the truth about him and his buddies.

Guess I should have waited for Apr 1.


Mechanical men, posted 25 Feb 2007 at 10:48 UTC by motters » (Master)

Those look like fun robots - whether or not they did exist in "reality". The victorian era engineers were so ingenious it wouldn't surprise me at all if a few of them had tried to build mechanical men to go alongside the mechanical ships, locomotives and flying machines. Robotics does have a very long history substantially pre-dating the 19th century.

I can understand the scepticism about robotics claims. Given that the Japanese were making Karakuri a few hundred years ago the pace of progress between then and now does not appear to be all that great. But I think there is good reason to believe that we are going to see some significant progress in the next few years. I know there's stuff going on out of the glare of public/internet scrutiny which looks like a step function in robotic capabilities, and the continuing decline in cost and complexity of computer hardware and software will mean that robotics will become increasingly accessible to the general pool of IT developers.

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