The writing automaton

17 enero 2007

In the eighteenth century, 200 years before little ASIMO started to walk or to climb stairs, the great Jaquet-Droz built an automaton which could scrawl any sentence on a piece of paper and had a chilling repertory of human-like movements. Read the story an then check it out at the videos:

Completed by 1772, 'The Writer' was the most perfect and complex automaton built by swiss clockmaker Jacquet-Droz. His astonishing mechanism was presented in every court in Europe and fascinated the world's most important people: the kings and emperors of China, India and Japan.

As soon as the mechanism starts up, 'The Writer' dips the feather into the ink, shakes it twice, puts his hand at the top of the page and stops. Every single movement of the automaton gives un unusual impression of life: his eyes follow the text being written, and the head moves when he takes some ink.

The Writer is able to write any custom text up to 40 letters long. The text is coded on a wheel where characters are selected one by one. According to Wikipedia, some authors explain that this automaton is a forerunner of the computers. This statement is certainly justified since the machine is composed of a "program" and a "memory". The "program" is a wheel which makes it possible to choose the words the android is to write, and the "memory", which is made up by a set of cams, make it possible to form the letters. However, other authors think The Writer works more like a music box than like a computer.

According to some contemporary sources, Jacquet-Droz used to program his automaton to write the sentence "Cogito ergo sum" in order to make some fun of Descartes contemporary theories.

Nowadays, The Writer and other amazing automata by Jacquet-Droz can be seen at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland.

More info: 1, 2, 3 y 4

10 Respuestas ( Deja un comentario )

  1. Anónimo dijo...
  2. Quelle exquisite!

  3. Anónimo dijo...
  4. Thank you for sharing this. It is wonderful!

  5. Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) dijo...
  6. Whoa!
    Pretty impressive when you consider that the main feature on 20th century dolls was to "drink" from a bottle and "wet" their diaper.

  7. 0!Z!^!P Z P!^VP dijo...

  9. Anónimo dijo...
  10. Pretty impressive when you consider that the main feature on 20th century dolls was to "drink" from a bottle and "wet" their diaper.

    To be fair, that's at least partly because kings and scientists don't use dolls nowadays, while 3 year olds do.

  11. xenmate dijo...
  12. Hola aberron. Hace tiempo puse un link a esta maravilla en Spy's Spice. Tal vez quieras añadir esta página a tus enlaces para el post.

    Por cierto. Enhorabuena por el blog. No puedo escribir todos los días, pero siempre te sigo.

    Un abrazo,


  13. Dug North dijo...
  14. Also, be sure to check out the writing automaton by Henri Maillardet, now at the Franklin Institute. The automaton revealed the name of its maker in writing -- solving the mystery of its origin.

  15. Kanti (Hyoutan) dijo...
  16. Watch the revived early 19th century writing karakuri doll by Tanaka Hisashige shown at the World Expo 2005 Japan, who could write a complicated kanji character with an accomplished face expression:

  17. Antonio Martínez Ron dijo...
  18. Oh Hyoutan!! That's really great!! I didn´t know that japanese automaton, I think I will use the video for a post, with you permission. Thank you so much!!

    Xenmate: es el link nº 4. saludos!!

  19. Anónimo dijo...
  20. Try not to divide any element in your artwork in half. This especially includes the temperature of the painting.

    What I mean is - it shouldn't be half warm and half cool. Warm colors are like fire - red, orange, yellow and brown. Cool colors are like water and grass - blue and green.

    If your painting is mostly warm, add a little cool for contrast. If it's mostly cool, add a little warm to spice it up. It's a great
    Art tip.

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