|home > History Making robots >||14 November 2008|
taken at the Fair
[Ref. Links, Elektro - Medicus]
YouTube video @~50secs,
[Ref. Links, Elektro - Youtube]
[The fair ran from April 30, 1939 until October 27, 1940. - Wikipedia]
Robots: Fact Fiction + Prediction, Jasia Reichardt, 1978, p74Note the two photocells, one in the head and the other in the chest, how were they used in Elektro's operation?
Elektro, one of the most photographed mechanical men, was produced by Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1939 for the New York World's Fair. Constructed from Aluminium on a steel frame, Elektro was capable of performing twenty six movements and responded to commands spoken into a microphone. each word set up vibrations which were converted into electrical impulses; which in turn operated the relays controlling eleven motors. A series of words properly spaced selected the movement Elektro was to make. Two-word commands started an action. One-word commands stopped it. Four words returned all relays to their normal positions. His fingers, arms and turntable for talking were operated by nine motors and another small motor worked the bellows so the giant could smoke. The eleventh motor drove the four rubber rollers under each foot, enabling him to walk. Elektro's faithful companion, the dog Sparko, with two motors, could beg, bark and wag his tail.
Westinghouse Sparko - 1940
Frederick W. Chesson's "A HISTORY OF THE ROBOTIC WORLD" [Jan07]However on Jack Weeks' Elektro page (see below) a scan of a magazine from the time relates that Sparko appeared at the 1940 New York World's Fair along with Elektro, and from the accompanying photos it is unlikely that Sparko, although probably mobile, could have charged anywhere. Neither is there any sign of heat-sensors or homing-in mechanism
Photophobia, for high illumination levels, should well have been included in a robot dog built (probably by Westinghouse) for the 1939 New York World's Fair. It was designed to home in on visitors by sensing their body heat and "bite" their legs. But, just before the exhibit's opening, it was attracted by the headlights of a passing automobile, and charged out an open door like a four-legged kamikaze and was run over, despite the startled driver's efforts to avoid it!
 "Sex Kittens Go To College" (1960) in which Elektro played "Sam Thinko", the campus computer. [IMDB 2008]
[Ref. Links, Elektro - Medicus] Elektro in an amature film taken at the Fair
For more information see
www.maser.org/k8rt/ Jack Weeks' Elektro page [Jan07] archived at Internet Archive
and the story of how Elektro was found in 2003
and more photos at David Szondy's Tales of Future Past site - Elektro [Jan07]