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Entries in robot servant (6)

Friday
Jan282011

Watching Television With My Robot Butler (1932)

The December 4, 1932 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran this illustration accompanying a piece titled, "Looking Ahead Another 50 Years." 

TELEVISION -- The husband at home in bed is able to sweep the mechanical eye through the shopping district and see what his wife is doing. He also has all sorts of appliances for supplying almost anything he needs, including a robot valet, who is seen approaching with his master's suit of clothes.

Early visions of television often imagined live broadcasting without any narrative arc, like from this 1930's collectible card that we looked at a few months back.

Previously on Paleofuture:

Wednesday
Jan272010

Android Love of the Future (1982)

The June 2, 1982 Washington Post ran a short piece about lovebots of the future. The article by Stephanie Mansfield predicts androids would be on the market by the mid-1990s, and likely revolutionize the way people looked at sexual relations.  

Arthur Harkins, director of the graduate program in futures research at the University of Minnesota, is even quoted as saying that android-human relationships might be treated as common-law marriages. I suppose as long as people didn't get gay-robo-married the U.S. would be okay with that. I can hear the asinine protest chants already, "it's WALL-E and EVE, not Elektro and Steve!" 

The entire piece appears below.

He comes home every night, grabs a beer and falls asleep in front of the television. You might as well be married to a robot, you say. Well, by the year 2000, you could be.

He may even look like Cary Grant, talk about white-water rafting, be able to fix a drink and possibly even be good in bed," says Arthur Harkins, director of the graduate program in futures research at the University of Minnesota.

"One of the things we're seeing now is that people are shopping for other people the way they'd shop for an appliance," he says, citing the proliferation of computerized dating services, explicitly worded personal want ads and marriage brokers. "You're buying something that makes you happy."

Domestic robot systems are expected to come on the market by the mid-1990s, according to Harkins, and sell for several thousand dollars. These highly sophisticated androids can be programmed to offer a wide range of human personality traits. ("We can even make them neurotic") and are likely to be purchased by "people who have difficulty opening up to other human being," he says.

These surrogate spouses would be beneficial to very lonely people.

But can you fall in love with a robot? "Why not?" says Harkins, citing a bedridden hospital patient. "Along comes this wonderful android who doesn't care a bit about that, whereas other human beings may not be so inclined."

The union between man and machine would not be recognized as legal, Harkins says, but perhaps could be treated as a common-law marriage. And there's no question of a messy divorce. "Just trade it in, I suppose," the scientist says.

Another example of future schlock was the robot pets offered by Neiman-Marcus last Christmas, which Harkins says only strengthens his theory that people today want certainty. "They want somebody predictable," he says.

But Harkins says he doesn't want to trade in his own wife for a robot -- just yet. Not even, he fantasizes, "a Margot Kidder robot."

"I'd be bored stiff," he says. "But I may get to be 70 years old and look at a Mae West robot with a great deal of interest."

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Jan232010

Mechanical Wonder Maiden (1930)

Much like her robotic brother Herbert Televox, robot Miss Katrina Van Televox toured the country demonstrating Westinghouse products. According to this ad in the October 3, 1930 Altoona Mirror (Altoona, PA) Miss Van Televox talks, answers the phone, runs a vacuum cleaner and makes coffee.

Adding the supposed cost of this robot to the ad, $22,000, was yet another way to give that feeling of inevitability which pops up repeatedly in 1930's discussions of robots.

Katrina talks... answers the phone... runs a vacuum cleaner... makes coffee and toast... turns the lights on and off and does it all willingly at command from Mr. T. Barnard the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Expert who is accompanying her on her tour. The audience will also assist Mr. Barnard in making Katrina work. Her appearance here at The American Legion Home is her first in Altoona and women of this city are cordially invited by the Penn Central Light & Power Co., sponsors of her visit, to attend her personal appearance.

Katrina is chief demonstrator of the famous Westinghouse Flavor Zone range and is the sister of Herbert Televox famous metal man who has shown before many scientific gatherings. As Katrina's stay in Altoona is limited, The Penn Central Company ask all who wish to view these amazing demonstrations to plan their visit early. The admission is Free.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Oct182009

Have You a Little Robot? (1929)

You like robots? Well, just hold your horses. They're not here yet. And until they are, you better ride our damn street cars.

That seems to be the gist of an ad the San Antonio Public Service Company took out in the February 17, 1929 San Antonio Light. There's an attitude of inevitability in the advertisement; the idea that the robot chauffeur is within immediate reach, that robot servants would arrive in the very near future. 

We see this come up time and again throughout the 1920s and 30s. The robots are coming. You best get ready. (But in the meantime, buy our product.)

HAVE YOU A LITTLE ROBOT IN YOUR HOME?

Now comes the Robot -- the mechanical man with many of humanity's good features and none of its bad. He never makes mistakes -- always dependable -- in fact an ideal pet to have around.

Imagine having your own Robot drive you to the office in your own car. He, being a Robot, wouldn't get excited in traffic, wouldn't have an accidents, and you'd be able to forget about parking troubles.

Sounds mighty fine. But so far Mr. Robot hasn't learned to drive a car. And when he does it will probably cost you plenty for him to operate your old bus. Street cars and buses still hold the lead on the most desirable city transportation. Until Mr. Robot becomes a chauffeur you will find it more satisfactory to ride with us.

Convenience Without Expense. Service Without Danger.

SAN ANTONIO PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY

Previously on Paleo-Future: 

 

Sunday
Sep202009

International Travel of the Future (1932)

This illustration of international travel in the future, complete with robotic red-cap porters, appeared in the December 4, 1932 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX). It seems that all you need to do is step into the tube of your choice, then be shot out via capsule to your final destination.

The design has a very Rube Goldberg feel to it. Why one must first go down a slide, before ascending stairs couldn't be confirmed by presstime. The caption that accompanied the illustration is below.

INSTANTANEOUS INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL -- The artist here suggests the passenger terminals of the future, which, he thinks, will look quite different from the present steamship pier or railroad station. It will be noticed that everybody is equipped with a little personal radio antenna, and the arrivals and departures are announced by a mechanical man, while the red-cap porter is replaced by a robot who handles the luggage.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Jul262009

Robots for Romantic Old Maids (1928)

The July 1, 1928 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran a syndicated story titled, "Romantic Old Maids Can Hear the Words of Love They Long For."

The excerpt below tells the tale of a futuristic unmarried woman who keeps a robot under her bed. This automated man, which was naturally all the rage in 1929, gives her all the love and attention no "mortal man" will give her. The woman, even in such a contrived environment, must feign astonishment that a "man" would be in her bedroom.

I found it interesting that an article from the 1920s would mention the existence of gigolos (who of course, only exist in Europe). The article explains that such gigolos, who "pay attention" to old and unattractive ladies of wealth, will now be put out of work by these gear-driven casanovas. And here you thought the idea of sexbots was new...

At the same rate of progress it should not require more than a decade or so before a person can go to a store and pick out from the show case most any kind of automatic man or woman he or she might fancy -- an ideal servant or workman who would ask no food or wages but a little current and an occasional drop of oil; or even a flattering admirer could be purchased who would whisper in a neglected wife's ear, all the nice things that a busy husband forgets to say.

In this happy future, no old maid need look under the bed for a man, in vain. He would always be there and such a nice man, a perfect imitation of her favorite matinee idol or film star, with blond or dark hair, moustache or clean shaven, anything her heart desired. These would be stock models, turned out in quantity production and quite reasonable in price. This year probably a "Lindy" model would have been a big seller. Or, if the customer is willing to pay a little more and have one made to order, the manufacturer might send artists and photographers to some notorious lounge-lizard and deliver a perfect counterfeit of him. She could order the late Rudolf Valentine's face and John Barrymore's voice or most any other combination.

The present crude automations can be made to start on most any combination of tones, therefore the man under the bed might be set to react at the words:

"Sir! What are you doing there?"

At that cue he would crawl out and on bended knees, pour out words from 1,000 feet of phonofilm, revealing his hopeless passion for the love-starved old maid, telling her how beautiful she is and all the other sweet things that somebody out to have said but no mortal had bothered to.

When she tired of hearing this over and over, a word of encouragement would be the end to slide into place in his manly chest, another reel and at the same time he could sit beside her on the couch or take her on his substantial knees, embracing her with a tireless mechanical arm. The introduction of this kind of automation would throw out of work a small army of "gigolos," young men who in Europe, pay attention to old and unattractive ladies of wealth, for a consideration.

You can read the entire article here.

Previously on Paleo-Future: