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Rastus Robot, the Mechanical Negro (1931)


I love humanoid robots from the 1920s and 30s. They were going to fight our wars, drive our cars, and be gigolos for lonely women. In the early 1930s Westinghouse created a robot named Rastus, the "mechanical Negro." And what was Rastus going to do? Nearly take an arrow to the eye, it would seem.

The photo above appeared in the September 6, 1931 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) and shows Samuel Montgomery Kintner playing William Tell with the robot. The photo below is from the blog Dull Tool Dim Bulb, though I'm not sure who is pictured with Rastus.

Mr. S. M. Kintner, of the Westinghouse Research Laboratories, creates a mechanical Negro known as "Rastus Robot." Mr. Kintner is here enacting a modern scientific version of the famous episode of William Tell, who shot the apple from his son's head. In this demonstration a flash of light is sent out from a tiny bulb concealed in the arrow, the light is picked up by an "electric eye" on "Rastus," which ignites a charge of powder that blows the apple from the robot's head. The arrow does not leave the bow.


Previously on Paleo-Future:


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Reader Comments (11)

This is surely the most fucked-up thing I've seen here yet.

February 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNemo

Wow. I feel icky now. And think of the mental context for a contemporary reader of this article -- we're talking 66 years after the end of the Civil War, the equivalent of 1944 for us. The article might as well say "Engineers at Westinghouse are just steps away from creating mechanical slaves! Imagine the day when you can own a darkie without shame - or maintenance!"

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWutzke

Blimey O'Riley. I'm totally speechless! Thank heavens the world has changed a lot since then!

�Uf, me gust�! Tan clara y positiva.
Have a nice day


February 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGarretot

Happy Black History Month.

February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill Higgins-- Beam Jockey

To think of what could have been. That should be Obama the mechanical Negro

April 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBonzo Grape

"And think of the mental context for a contemporary reader of this article -- we're talking 66 years after the end of the Civil War, the equivalent of 1944 for us. "

Are you saying you wouldn't buy a mechanical Jew to do your bookkeeping?

July 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack

That's just sick!

July 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNot a Racist

Well, if this thing would be produced, maybe the KKK would have something to do, no? Because they just know to be fucking racists and kill innocent people.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSaulo

Very sick....

November 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersewa mobil

Well it looks like a dream you know an "humanoid" doing our things. I'm a little discord with you where you write "fight our wars" I think that if we think about our future we should to think in a world without war, anyway good post!
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November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoss Bom

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