The Writer Automaton

The Writer automaton (self-operating machine or robot) was the inspiration for the principle character in the Martin Scorsese’s Hugo movie. This 240-year-old machine, comprised of 6000 parts, works by using a crank to wind up the mainsprings before the head as well as eyes start moving for life-likeness, following its own hand movements as it writes. That’s not all, the automata even dips its quill into an ink bottle between words. What makes all of this possible are 40 cams with three cam followers that read their shaped edges and translate them into movements of the boy’s arm. Controlling them is a large wheel or ‘system disk’, made up of letters that could be removed, replaced and programmed. The Writer is able to write any custom text up to 40 letters long, spread over four lines.

5. Henri Maillardet’s The Writer Automaton

Henri Maillardet was a Swiss mechanician of the 18th century who worked in London producing clocks and other mechanisms. In 1805 Henri Maillardet built a spring-activated automaton that draws pictures and writes verses in both French and English. The motions of the hand are produced by a series of cams located on shafts in the base of the automaton, which produces the necessary movement to complete seven sketches and the text. It is believed that this automaton has the largest cam-based memory of any automaton of the era.

4.Karakuri Ningyo Robot

Karakuri puppets are traditional Japanese mechanized puppets or automata, originally made from the 17th century to 19th century. The word karakuri means “mechanisms” or “trick”. Three main types of karakuri exist. Butai karakuri (stage karakuri) were used in theatre. Zashiki karakuri (tatami room karakuri) were small and used in homes. Dashi karakuri (festival car karakuri) were used in religious festivals, where the puppets were used to perform reenactments of traditional myths and legends.

3. Praying Monk Automaton

Juanelo Turriano was an Italo-Spanish clockmaker, engineer and mathematician. He’s attributed as the creator of the “Clockwork Prayer”, an automaton representing a monk manufactured in the 1560s based on a commission from Philip II of Spain. Another automaton associated with Turriano is a figure of a lady playing a lute housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

2. Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient analog computer designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. It was recovered in 1900-01 from the Antikythera wreck, a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. The instrument was designed and constructed by Greek scientists and has been dated between 150 to 100 BC. After the knowledge of this technology was lost at some point in antiquity, technological artifacts approaching its complexity and workmanship did not appear again until the 14th century, when mechanical astronomical clocks began to be built in Western Europ

1. Roentgens’ Berlin Secretary Cabinet

This 200-year-old specimin is one of the finest achievements of European furniture making, and the most important product from Abraham and David Roentgen’s workshop. A writing cabinet crowned with a chiming clock, it features finely designed marquetry panels and elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. Owned by King Frederick William II, the Berlin cabinet is uniquely remarkable for its ornate decoration, mechanical complexity, and sheer size.