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Doughboys become "iron boys" to fight wars of the future (1926)

Between 1918 end of World War I and the 1939 start of World War II, American newspapers sometimes ran stories about how robots would battle in wars of the future. Still shaken from the incredible death toll of World War I, people hoped for a time when robots would fight in the place of humans. Sometimes this was imagined as something to ensure that only your side wouldn't see casualties, but other articles predicted a time when wars would simply be decided by whatever nation's robots could conquer that of another nation's robots, leaving no human casulaties.

The December 25, 1926 San Antonio Light ran this illustration of the robot soldier of the future. The illustration is based on an unnamed mechanical man with RUR emblazoned on its chest. R.U.R., of course being the name of the play by Karel Capek that introduced the word "robot" to the English speaking world in 1921. The caption explains that doughboys of the future (a term for American soldiers fighting in WWI) might be called iron boys if they're one day replaced by robots.

Possibly in some grim war of the future the doughboy will have become the "iron boy." The army has enlisted its first mechanical man "Private Robot," and put him to work at Aberdeen proving grounds.


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Reader Comments (6)

I wonder what the cryptic The army has enlisted its first mechanical man "Private Robot," and put him to work at Aberdeen proving grounds. means.

What sort of "robot" was being used at Aberdeen in the '20's? Just hyperbole, or was it an exaggeration of something else that was really being tested?

August 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreyhawk Grognard

It could be intended as a description of the picture.

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChakat Firepaw

And in one thousand years, it will be humans who are fighting the wars, muted by the shadows of their robot counterparts.

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline J.

The "robot" pictured is obviously a caricature of this machine:

aka - "Eric Robot" by Capt. Richards & A.H. Reffell (1928)

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercr0sh

LOL That "Terminator" looks like the BK Burger King.

August 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Funny photos! You made my day happy, I enjoyed seeing that photos of robots. I'll wait your next post.

November 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarion | black belts

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