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Squee electric squirrel - 1951 - the first true robot

  • Radio Electronics, Squee pt 1, December 1951
  • Radio Electronics, Squee pt 2, February 1952
  • Popular Science article c.1952
  • Squee_Construction_1952.pdf at my friend Reuben Hoggett's cyberneticzoo.com
  • The Construction of Living Robots by Edmund C Berkeley - 1952 A scan of a document found in a damp cellar - opens in new window.
  • The Construction of Living Robots by Edmund C Berkeley - 1952 LivingRobots52.pdf at my friend Reuben Hoggett's cyberneticzoo.com
  • Squee Today

    An electric squirrel designed and constructed in 1951 by Edmund C. Berkeley
    Squee is a small robot squirrel which was able to collect 'nuts' (tennis or golf balls).
    Squee was the first robot to be able to carry out a defined task, as opposed to just steer towards light.
    Squee was the first robot to have a manipulator under automatic control.
    Squee is the first of the true robots.

    Squee, the electronic robot squirrel. The two phototubes or "eyes" are at the top of the steering post; the scoop which opens and closes, or "hands", is at the front.

    Edmund C. Berkeley,
    Copyright 1956 by Berkeley Enterprises, Inc.,
    Published April, 1956, by Berkeley Enterprises, Inc.,
    815 Washington St., Newtonville 60, Mass.


    Squee (named after "squirrel") is an electronic robot squirrel. It contains four sense organs (two phototubes, two contact switches), three acting organs (a drive motor, a steering motor, and a motor which opens and closes the scoop or "hands"), and a small brain of half a dozen relays. It will hunt for a "nut". The "nut" is a tennis ball designated by a member of the audience who steadily holds a flashlight above the ball, pointing the light at Squee. Then Squee approaches, picks up the "nut" in its "hands" (the scoop), stops paying attention to the steady light, sees in stead a light that goes on and off 120 times a second shining over its "nest", takes the "nut" to its "nest", there leaves the nuts, and then returns to hunting more "nuts". When Squee is operating, it is a dramatic and exciting example of a robot. It has been exhibited in New York, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis, and has always entertained and excited the audience. The machine however is sensitive to the surrounding light level, and usually has to be shown in a room about 8 by 10 ft. with only a small amount of overhead light and black curtained walls. Data: completed; rather well finished but not professionally; 75% reliable; maintenance, difficult; our costs, about $3,000.

    Berkeley beckons "Squee" with flashlight - Life Magazine 19th March 1956

    Note in this 1956 picture Squee has already had its batteries removed and been fitted with a mains power supply and umbical.

    Contributor - Reuben Hoggett
    Thank you David Mitchell for telling me about Squee.

    According to BLINKENLIGHTS ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE Pop Quiz: What was the first personal computer? it was Simon by Edmund Berkeley. He first described Simon in his 1949 book, "Giant Brains, or Machines That Think" and went on to publish plans to build Simon in a series of Radio Electronics issues in 1950 and 1951, and by 1959, over 400 Simon plans were sold.

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