We've seen Japanese robots, and we've seen American ones. But these classic European robots show you how to wear metal with style and charm.

The Artificial Man, or "Occultus", or Barbarossa from "The Gebethner and Wolff's Yearbook", 1912


One mechanic in Berlin constructed a mechanism which, in his opinion, very much imitated "a real man". Winding a spring, the "artificial man" made movements and various human sounds. The mechanism had no practical use and was consdiered a curious specimen of inventiveness.

(via Malopolska Digital Library)

Soviet robots crossing the street in the late 1960s

(via English Russia)

Electron, a Soviet robot, created by B. N. Vasilenko in Kalinigrad, 1967


This seven foot tall radio-controlled robot could understand 112 commands, dance the waltz and play chess.


(via Cybernetic Zoo and Youth Technics / November 1966)

The Ethiopian Caterpillar, by the Swiss watchmaker Henri Maillardet, around 1820

Six caterpillar automatons are known to exist, but only two have diamonds, rubies, turquise and emeralds. One of them was sold for $415,215 at Sotheby's in 2010.


Sabor IV by August Huber, 1938


It was the Swiss textile manufacturer's fourth robot (he made the first when he was only 12!). It could move, walk, talk, sing and... yodel with the help of his twelve electric motors and an ultra-short receiver.


(via Cybernetic Zoo and The Speed Boys)

The Robot of Tim Grimes, 1955, Alphington, United Kingdom


The 17-year old Grimes built a really cool robot with an electric motor, which could walk (backwards, too!), flash its eyes and turn its head.

(via Keystone/Getty Images)

ARS by Boris Grishin (1966, Soviet Union)


(via Cybernetic Zoo)

Eric, the Robot, 1928 (United Kingdom)


Eric was made by A. H. Reffell, a motor engineer, and Capt. William H. Richards, a WWI-veteran, to open the Exhibition of the Society of Model Engineers in The Royal Horticultural Halls, London. The aluminium Eric was able to speak, tell the time, shake hands, sit down when told, look around, and gesticulate. He worked with a 12V electric motor with some electromagnets and three miles of wire.

(via Edward G. Malindine/Stringer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images and Cybernetic Zoo)


Dr. Motor from Hungary by Ferenc Tarján (1929) and an unknown automaton from 1937


The Charlie Chaplin-lookalike robot, Dr. Motor, was in a big store for years in Budapest to answer questions about anything. It could gesticulate and look around, but of course it wasn't able to think: a big loudspeaker was included on its chest, and a local comedian spoke through it. Some people believed that Dr. Motor was a real talking robot, and they loved to ask incomfortable and nosy questions like "Have you seen Budapest by night?" and "Do you have a lover?".

(via Huszadik század and sztimpank blog)

Anatole (or Marsulus) by Jean Dusailly, 1948


This French robot was radio-controlled, weighed 308 pounds (140 kg), and was 6 feet 10 inches (210 cm) tall. It could wave its arms, and respond to some code signals.

(via Fotolog, Cybernetic Zoo and Astromonster/Flickr )

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