CULTURE & ARTS
11/07/2013 08:13 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This 240-Year-Old Robot Was Probably The World's First Computer

If you thought robots were a thing of the future, we have some unsettling news. One of the earliest automatas was constructed -- get this -- in the 1770s, before our nation declared its independence. The robot, however, doesn't take the shape of a metallic Transformers-type mechanism, but rather a curly haired boy with a velvet coat and a quill. Meet "The Writer."

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The incredible (automata) boy wonder was built in Switzerland by watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz, along with son Henri-Louis and Jean-Frédéric Leschot. "The aim was, I think, to mechanize reason and automate the passions," Professor Simon Schaffer explains in the BBC clip above.

Although from the outside the little guy resembles a porcelain doll, his insides are composed of 6,000 parts, each one refined and miniaturized to fit inside his compact frame. If "The Writer" was made a couple centuries later, perhaps he could have been buddies with Jon Kessler's modern day boy robots.

See "The Writer" miraculously write in the clip above and watch the entire segment, "BBC Mechanical Marvels Clockwork Dreams," below.

h/t ThisIsColossal

Correction: An earlier edition of this article declared this robot the earliest automata when in fact it is among the earliest.

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