Back in the day, roboticists were less about constructing sleek robo-sapiens and more about building robots who could smoke, yodel, and shoot firearms. Popular Science has a gallery of vintage robot articles, and it's a hoot.

Top image: Cowbot: May 1933

[via Popular Science]

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Elektro, the cigarette-smoking robot and his dog and Sparko : August 1949


Professor Harry May's gun-shooting robot: January 1935

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Creepy Old Man-Bot: October 1935



Yodeling Radio Man: March 1939



All Capone's "Robot": August 1959
From Popular Science:

In August 1958, we featured a story on robot-like bulletproof armor for the Detroit police. A year later, the Russian media picked up the story, retitling it "Robot is Bulletproof," and claimed that American engineers were selling the equipment to Al Capone and the KKK. Wild!


NASA's Electric Testing Dummy: May 1967