coo-coo clocks to computers have throughout the years held
a fascination for just about everybody.
We find animated
statutes in ancient China and in the temples of classical
Greece. In Europe, the clockmakers of the Renaissance often
adorned their works with marvelous moving figures.
The Franklin Institute's
mechanical lady dressed in green is one of the most important
of the small number of androids that have ever been built
with the ability to write and draw.** The tradition of machines
capable of actual writing and drawing seems to have gotten
its start in Germany in the mid-seventeenth century with Friedrich
von Knauss who in the course of his career produced four writing
Gallery of Automata" for photos and descriptions
of various historical automata.)
The most prolific
and gifted of the writing machine makers was a Frenchman,
Pierre Jacquet-Droz, who in company with a succession of collaborators
built a series of machines from 1774 on.
dolls who could write were curiosities which attracted the
interest of royalty as well as the common people. In addition
to being spectacular showpieces, automata made impressive
state gifts and were occasionally sold for this purpose.