TechFlesh Blog

This Programmable 6,000-Part Drawing Boy Automata is Arguably the First Computer and It Was Built 240 Years Ago

Nov 05, 2013 by Administrator

The Writer was built in the 1770s using 6,000 moving parts by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis, and Jean-Frédéric Leschot.

Designed in the late 1770s this incredible little robot called simply The Writer, was designed and built by Swiss-born watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz with help from his son Henri-Louis, and Jean-Frédéric Leschot. Jaquet-Droz was one of the greatest automata designers to ever live and The Writer is considered his pièce de résistance. On the outside the device is deceptively simple. A small, barefoot boy perched at a wooden desk holding a quill, easily mistaken for a toy doll. But crammed inside is an engineering marvel: 6,000 custom made components work in concert to create a fully self-contained programmable writing machine that some consider to be the oldest example of a computer.

In this clip from BBC Four’s documentary Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams hosted by Professor Simon Schaffer, we go behind the scenes to learn just how this remarkably complex 240-year-old device was designed and constructed. The entire clip is well worth a watch, in fact here’s another bit about Merlin’s gorgeous silver swan automata.

Source:

Featured, Gadgets, Science