The Writer: Awesome Programmable Machine from the 1700s

Warning: you'll need to get over any "creepy Victorian doll" willies you might have in order to really understand that this is a most incredible machine!

You know that whole steampunk movement? Do you ever wonder, beyond the incredible fashion, what it is about that time that makes people so excited? Well, this marvel of design and engineering might help you understand why some of us are completely in awe of the machines that came from way before the industrial age.

Still from BBC Four Documentary Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams
Built by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, a Swiss clockmaker, this 240 year old machine is capable of writing using a quill and paper. Inside are 6,000 parts (!!!) that fit compactly inside the doll's body, including a set of letters on a wheel that could be inserted in any order to produce the message written by the machine. Essentially, it was programmable.

According to Wikipedia:
The automata of Jaquet-Droz are also considered to be some of the finest examples of human mechanical problem solving. Three particularly complex and still functional dolls, now known as the Jaquet-Droz automata, are housed at the art and history museum in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
See it in action around 2:25. The script it produces is nearly flawless! (Yeah, I'm pretty sure it writes better than I do.)



If you want to check out more automatons, check out the full BBC Four Documentary: Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams.

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(Source: Hubby)