Thinko the Robot's Secret Past

Illustration for article titled Thinko the Robots Secret Past

By the standards of psychotronic film, Sex Kittens Go to College (1960) has it all: Mamie Van Doren, a chimpanzee named Abraham Q. Voltaire, and Thinko the Robot. Indeed, Thinko plays a pivotal role—thanks to his computer brain, a brilliant ex-stripper is hired to head the science department at Collins College. When he blows a fuse after all the excitement, a sexy nurse attends him. But Thinko was no mere Hollywood prop; he was a bot with a past.

In fact, Thinko was originally known as Elektro, one of the "mechanical men" built by Westinghouse in the first half of the twentieth century. He made his debut at the 1939 New York World's Fair, where he astounded visitors to the Westinghouse Building by smoking cigarettes, walking, "talking" (his voice was recorded on 78 rpm records), and identifying red and green lights with his photoelectric sensor eyes. Later, Elektro and his dog, Sparko, hit the road to introduce the wonders of Westinghouse engineering to the rest of America.

Illustration for article titled Thinko the Robots Secret Past

After Sex Kittens Go to College, Elektro fell on hard times. His head was separated from his body, and both parts disappeared until they were reunited in 2004. Today, Elektro and the other Westinghouse mechanical men reside at the Mansfield Memorial Museum in Mansfield, Ohio. Sparko's whereabouts remain unknown.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Lynn Peril

@Eac_O_System: If it makes you feel better, she gets fired because of her past - even though she is overqualified for the job (and takes herself and her students seriously). Van Doren gives a surprisingly nuanced performance in what is essentially a live-action cartoon.