As we look back through the archive, we find many old cards containing what appear to be robots, mechanical monks, or “automated men” as they have been referred to. We know that many of the amazingly intricate clockwork machines that were popular in the 1800s have survived the test of time, but were there also robots?
Firstly we know that at least one of the pictures above was of a real invention we have covered the steam man in a separate post (see below).
We also know that Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks contained many depictions of automations such as the hydraulic water clock and the robotic lion. Under the Duke of Millan, Da Vinci is supposed to have built an armoured Germanic knight in 1495.
We also know the French inventor, Jacques de Vaucanson, produced a number of amazing robots in the 1730s. These included a self-playing flute with a mechanical lung that could play 12 different songs, and a musical robot that could play faster than a human.
In 1737, he designed the duck of Vaucanson which held a full mechanical digestive system inside.