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Thursday, February 5, 2015

The androids of the past : Automatons

Singular: au•tom•a•ton / Plural: au•tom•a•tons or au•tom•a•ta (-tə) 

1. A self-operating machine or mechanism, especially a robot. 

2. One that behaves or responds in a mechanical way.


History has taught us that the first machines produced by man were the automata. They constituted the first step in the realization of his dream to fly through the air like a bird, swim the sea like a fish, end to become ruler of all nature. From these attempts to imitate life by mechanical means, man subsequently utilized the principles involved to produce the complex mechanisms which have resulted in the technological advances of the Space Age.


Greek Automata: (Gr: Automatos - 'self-moving') When his writings on hydraulics, pneumatics and mechanics were translated into Latin in the sixteenth century, Hero’s readers were amazed to discover descriptions of inventions which included vending machines, a water-pump, a wind-organ, and the aeolipile (the first recorded steam engine). 

Although today the only surviving example of such sophisticated ancient Greek mechanics is the Antikythera mechanism, it is clear that complex mechanical devices existed in ancient Greece. Following the destruction of the Library of Alexander and the collapse of the Greek Empire, most of the works of the ancient Greeks were lost to us, and along with it, the art of automata. By the 8th century, the art made an official recovery in the Middle-east, with the publication of 'The Book of Ingenious Devices', which was a large illustrated work on mechanical devices, including automata, published in 850 by the three Persian brothers known as the Banu Musa working at the House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikma) in Baghdad. The book described about one hundred devices and how to use them.

The automata look like the creation of the modern world. These pieces (specially the small ones) are intricate mechanisms that create the simplest movements, human like movements, so soft and delicate. Sometimes I forget that I am watching perfect androids, the more and more I watch them...they become real. I can't believe that the automatons have been around for centuries! even B.C.! 

During the 1700 royalty and people with money started buying automata for their parties. The royalty always needed to have the latest popular things, and the automata were the IT things, they provided entertainment and music. As you know, if the royals and the famous had something new, the rest of the society imitated them. On the 1800, the automatons became more popular, they were sold as souvenirs, toys for children and entertainment at local fairs, and they were not exclusive for people with money anymore. The automatons were based on common individuals, show business performers, fairy tales, etc. The characters on which the automatons are based are varied, it just depended on the creator.

Enjoy these wonderful videos ... 


I'm sure I had one of those in a past life. I need one.

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