Inventions Leading to Robotics ~ MECHTECH GURU

Inventions Leading to Robotics

Inventions Leading to Robotics

The field of robotics has evolved over several millennia, without reference to the word robot until the early 20th Century. In 270 B.C., ancient Greek physicist and inventor Ctesibus of Alexandria created a water clock, called the clepsydra, or “water-thief,” as it translates. Powered by rising water, the clepsydra employed a cord attached to a float and stretched across a pulley to track time.

Apparently, the contraption entertained many who watched it passing away the time, or stealing their time, thus earning its namesake. Born in Lyon, France, Joseph Jacquard (1752–1834) inherited his father’s small weaving business but eventually went bankrupt. Following this failure, he worked to restore a loom and in the process developed a strong interest in mechanizing the manufacture of silk. After a hiatus in which he served for the Republicans in the French Revolution, Jacquard returned to his experimentation and in 1801 invented a loom that used a series of punched cards to control the repetition of patterns used to weave cloths and carpets. Jacquard’s card system was later adapted by Charles Babbage in early 19th Century Britain to create an automatic calculator, the principles of which later led to the development of computers and computer programming.

The inventor of the automatic rifle, ChristopherMiner Spencer (1833–1922) ofManchester, Connecticut, is also credited with giving birth to the screw machine industry. In 1873, Spencer was granted a patent for the lathe that he developed, which included a camshaft and a self-advancing turret. Spencer’s turret lathe took the manufacture of screws to a higher level of sophistication by automating the process.

In 1892, Seward Babbitt introduced a motorized crane that used a mechanical gripper to remove ingots from a furnace, 70 years prior to General Motors’ first industrial robot used for a similar purpose. In the 1890s Nikola Tesla—known for his discoveries in AC electric power, the radio, induction motors, and more— invented the first remote-controlled vehicle, a radio-controlled boat. Tesla was issued Patent #613.809 on November 8, 1898, for this discovery.

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