Amazing Writing Automaton from 1772

You can have your Legos, Asimos, and Transformers. I’ll take this 100% analog scripting automaton called the Writer. This little ragamuffin was completed in 1772, and its movements are based on the complex clockwork of Switzerland’s Jacquet-Droz. It’s entirely mechanical, and is powered by a wind-up spring mechanism. Caged kinetics was one of the only portable power sources of the time, after all.

Not only can this machine write a phrase of up to 40 characters, but it can be programmed (!?) to write any 40-character expression the master wishes. The requested phrase is encoded onto a disk (double-!?) inside the automaton, and as the spring winds down and spins the disk, each letter on the outside is read and translated on the fly into printed characters. These days, we call that decoding.

This writing machine is, or course, a priceless relic. After watching the creepy video (I apologize for the French), check the link for more background on this amazing gadget.

The Writing Automaton [Fogonazos, via Boing Boing]