Monday, October 18, 2004

Westinghouse's first workable robot comes back to life

Elektro comes home:

"The Mansfield Memorial Museum is proud to announce a public display of ELEKTRO, the amazing mechanical man. This will be the first exhibit of ELEKTRO’s story since his untimely retirement and mysterious disappearance in 1960. The exhibit will open to the public on September 7 and continue until November 20.

Built in 1937/38 at the Westinghouse appliance plant in Mansfield, Ohio, ELEKTRO made his sensational debut at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. He returned to New York in 1940 with his new companion, SPARKO, a mechanical dog. Standing over 7 feet tall and weighing in at 300 pounds, ELEKTRO thrilled thousands of people with his ability to walk, talk, raise and lower his arms, turn his head and move his mouth as he spoke. At the peak of his popularity, he had a vocabulary of over 700 words and a vast repertoire of one-liners. ELEKTRO and his operators performed a 20-minute show every hour during the Fair’s two-summer run."

Elektro toured North America after WWII, was used as a static display in an amusement park for a few years, appeared in a couple of movies, and then was disconnected from his controls and stored. A few years later, his head was given to a local resident who'd been an engineer at Westinghouse, and his body was sold for scrap (but fortunately survived to be reunited with the head by Jack Weeks).

5 Comments:

Blogger Warren said...

"Bellows for smoking" - I don't get it? Why does it smoke? Does this have something to do with the mechanics of the machine or is it so it looks cool?

8:16 AM  
Blogger Allison Muri said...

Smoking most definitely is a "coolness" factor. He's not just any robot, he's suave and sexy too. He's got a sense of humour, with his repertoire of one-liners...and he's sensitive, with his little dog Sparko. He's built by Westinghouse, advertising - what else - domestic appliances. Elektro is the man every woman would want in her house. The writeup advertising his return to the Mansfield museum is most interesting in this regard:

"ELEKTRO represented Westinghouse’s prediction to remote-controlled appliances of the future. Built in human form, to cook our food, do our laundry, entertain our children and if needed, be our companion. ELEKTRO the personal robot would have been The Ultimate Appliance."
The ultimate appliance indeed!

9:07 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

Especially if, while cooking supper, it also smoked our cigarettes for us! Wow...so dreamy...

10:11 AM  
Blogger Meshon said...

The reach and influence of Big Tobacco is long indeed. I can just see the endorsements... Actually I once read a story where the last human was observing the end of the world with some robotic companions. He was not taking part in the transcendence of humanity because he was partly mechanical. He had disposable lungs that he could just throw away and replace when they got too clogged with tar and gunk.

I also have a friend who is convinced we would all live a lot longer if we could take our intestine out and wash it periodically.

12:06 PM  
Blogger itsmelori said...

I saw this robot this weekend at the Mansfield Museum. It is an awesome story about how this robot was found again piece by piece. There's a film on shows he did, you can see how he worked, pictures of his progress etc. Along with many civil war,military artifacts, Native American artifacts and One of the actual trees Johnny Appleseed planted. This museum is a must to see for any history buff or interests!

5:59 PM  

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