Past: It was approximately 3,000 years ago when the first signs of a robot appeared. The Iliad mentions a “mobile tripod” and in the myth Jason and the Argonauts a giant sentinel by the name of Talos is talked about. These weren’t real life robots, so when did the first robot appear. From what people think robots are today really is a far cry from the actual first robots. The abacus or bead-adding machine was the first computer and was used as far back as 1000 B.C.. Then there were Automatons which were scale models of creatures that moved. One of which used water to move it, it was called “Hercules Killing the Dragon. It was made about 300 B.C. by Hero. William Oughtred in 1621 invented the rectilinear and circular slide rules which were used up to when the pocket calculator was invented.
Throughout the 19th century a lot of inventors started to pop up with robotic inventions. In 1801 Joseph Jacquard made an automated loom which was the first numerically controlled machine. During the 1880’s railroads used automated signals that used electricity. And then in 1898 Nikola Tesla invented the Radio- controlled boat.
Before the 1900’s though nobody had ever used the word robot until it was dubbed by Fritz Lang in 1926 in the movie Metropolis. In 1940 Issac Asimov first used the robotics. The first programmable machine was built in 1938 by Pollard and Roseland and was used for painting. In the late 30’s and early 40’s the first electronic computers were produced by John Atanasoff. Then with Howard Aiken’s electromagnetic calculator. These computers weren’t mass produced until 1951 when Mauchy and Ecker’s UNIVAC I was produced as a commercial computer.
In 1956 George Devol designed what would become the first programmable computer and acquired a U.S. patent for it in’61. The father of robotics, who accompanied Devol was Joseph Engelerger, they named the first robot Unimate. This was also the first commercial robot and was marketed that by Planet Corp. in 1959. The unimate was installed in ’61 for a die casting machine. With this brings the start of artificial intelligence labs at MIT, Stanford, and the University of Edinburgh. Then in ’68 a vision capable robot was built at Stanford. Also in ’68 Unimation multirobots are sold to GM.
The 1970’s was the start of the computer age with company’s like Intel, Vicarm Inc., Tandy Inc., and NASA developing new computer technologies. Intel made the first microprocessor in 1971. Cincinnati Milacron had the first commercially available minicomputer-controlled industrial robot. Vicarm was developed to market the Stanford arm invented in ’70. Cray Inc. made the robot arms on the Viking 1 and 2 probes for NASA which lands on Martian surfaces. Tandy Inc. manufactured the TRS-80 home microcomputer. Then in the late ’70’s Unimation bought Vicarm and with GM made PUMA ( programmable universal machine for assembly).
The 1980’s brought a rise in robotics with a new company being started every month, one for instance was Transition Research Corp., started by the father of robotics Engelberger. Transition later develops HelpMate in ’91 and changes the name of the company to HelpMate Robotics, Inc.
With these few names were many more companies and inventors who changed the face of robotics to what we know today. With almost everything being animated to actual robotic in some shape or form.
With real life robots being invented and thought up through history also comes the fictional part of the tale which usually steers people away from what a real robot is to some kind of emotional feeling android that ends up retaliating against its maker. Movies have a lot to do with the fictional part to entertain their viewers. Since the early robots were shaped into this form and became a man’s friend instead of a helpful machine on the assembly line. Though I believe that this sometimes might bring out some good ideas and goals on the next futuristic robots and what they can do or help with. Since sometimes what people seen as fiction in movies 30 years ago is now being used everyday by the average household.