Creepy Old Bots

Before there were robots, there were automata.

Automata are old-fashioned robot like contraptions, and they tend to make the news from time to time.

The latest example is this 360° video featurette from the BBC about The House of Automata.

Personally, I found the creatures in the video a bit creepy, and it turns out that I’m not alone.

The thing I find even creepier than the bots in the video is what people paid for them!

It must be an acquired taste.

If you happen to have it, here’s a link to where you can satiate your cravings.
Golden Age of Automata (Theriault’s Antique Doll Auctions)

Anyway, while many automata of a certain age do tend to be kind of creepy, there are others that aren’t quite so bad. In fact, they come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them can be quite pretty as well as fascinating.

A great place to see that as well as to learn about automata is at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ. That’s because Murtogh Guinness, of Guinness beer fame, was an avid collector of automata and their close relatives, mechanical musical instruments. He left his entire collection of more than 700 gadgets to the Mooris Museum.

Here’s a video about that motherload of automata.


Musical Machines & Living Dolls: Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata from the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection (Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ)

Here’s a link to the history of Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s lovely artists mentioned in the video.
Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s Writer, Lady Musician and Draftsman (History of Computers)

While it doesn’t always make the news, there is a surprisingly large community of fans of both old and new automata. There’s even a yearly AutomataCon at the Morris Museum.

You can find out a ton more about all of this on the Cosma page about automata.

Among other things, you can learn a lot more backstory about what all of this has to do with the earlier post about the cinema pioneer Georges Méliès and the movie Hugo.

Find out more about bots in general …