Search Results for: Steve Carper Robot

Invincible Warriors and Goofball Sidekicks: Robots in American Popular Culture by Steve Carper

Cover by Emsh Steve Carper has been blogging about robots at Black Gate ever since his first post, The First Three Laws of Robotics, appeared back in November 2017. His delightful and entertaining articles have explored every facet of robots in America over the last century and a half. And now his first book on the subject, Robots in American Popular Culture, has been published by McFarland. Here’s what Steve tells us about it. Robots in American Popular Culture is the first truly…

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A New First Comic Strip Robot

Paleontologists constantly push the date of the first known human or the first known use of symbols earlier. Word detectives compete with one another to spot ever earlier uses of a word or phrase or bit of slang. And historians take their reputation in their hands whenever they state that such-and-such was the first one in history. In my book, Robots in American Popular Culture, I cited Hans Horina’s short- lived robot series, Professor Dodger and His Automatic Servant Girl,…

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Robots! In! Space!

Science fiction writers from Doc Smith to Robert Heinlein had their lone inventors hop into spaceships they built in their back yards. NASA had no such luxury. Space was the absolute unknown in the 1950s. A few rockets and satellites had poked their noses into the vacuum, but piloted craft were on the horizon and next to nothing was understood about how the rigors of space would affect human bodies. NASA had to worry about a million small details, using…

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Arok the Robot

Arok the robot first hit the national news in June 1975 when it married Linda Hoffman, the president of the Allan Kemp Fan Club, at the annual convention of fan club presidents in Chicago. I’ve long ago concluded that the modern world is one long real-time game of MadLibs. Even so, if that sentence doesn’t make you sit bolt upright in front of your screen then my whole career as a chronicler of robot history is a failure.

Telelux and Rastus: Westinghouse’s Forgotten Robots

In the 1920s, the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company became the world’s leading builder of robots, purely by accident. Nobody at Westinghouse ever intended to build a robot, nobody thought that doing so would be anything other than a waste of their time. Then one of their employees, Roy Wensley, came up with a nifty gadget. He figured out that by sending sound tones down a telephone wire, they could activate machinery at the other end, having it either turn…

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Tillie the Toiler and Rosie the Robot

The history of comic strips sometimes seems like a roll call of male names. The Katzenjammer Kids, Little Nemo, Tarzan, Moon Mullins, Li’l Abner, Barnaby, Terry and the Pirates, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Joe Palooka, Barney Google, Mutt and Jeff, Dick Tracy, Harold Teen, and the name of names, Rube Goldberg’s Boob McNutt. Even Blondie heads a strip that’s 99.9% about Dagwood. Probably the most famous female comic strip heroine is Little Orphan Annie. Digging into archives brings up a…

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Artzybasheff’s Robots

Boris Artzybasheff is one of my favorite science fiction artists. He’s one of my favorite artists, period, but I put it that way because most people never think of him as a science fiction artist. Look at his work through that modifier, though, and it snaps into place. Perhaps no other artist sees the alien in the everyday as much or depicts it as well as Artzybasheff. Born in Russia in 1899, he fled to New York in 1919 after…

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A Robot Has No Soul

Probably the quickest and most thorough technological disruption in history was the introduction of sound to movies. A novelty when a few short scenes were included in the 1927 film The Jazz Singer, sound had almost completely taken over the industry by 1930 despite the at times desperate battle against the cost of changing by both movie studios and theater owners. The havoc wreaked over Hollywood is the stuff of a thousand books. Performers, especially those dozens of stars who…

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We Buy Us a Robot

Robot fever first gripped the U.S. in the 1930s. The decade saw a procession of robots across newspaper headlines, with everybody from industrial giant Westinghouse to 13-year-old Bobby Lambert making the news for robots they built. Tens of millions of households owned automobiles, telephones were never far from a hand, families huddled around radios, and electric appliances dotted modern kitchens. The economy might have hit a minor glitch, but despite that – and in many cases because of that, as…

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A Robot to Keep the English Language From Dying Out

The International Time Capsule Society (ITCS) is an organization established in 1990 to promote the careful study of time capsules. It strives to document all types of time capsules throughout the world. When founded, the group was headquartered at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. Hey, that’s not crazier than studying robots. And, like robots, information about time capsules – like time capsules themselves – easily gets hidden or obscure. Somebody needs to dig around, often literally, to get their stories…

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