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.
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: