Robots; Gort, Bender, Tik-Tok and my mea culpa



I was at dinner with friends
last night when I brought up the subject of robots in movies and
literature.   As I did so, the
gentleman to my left turned to me and said:

"Klaatu barada nikto"

These were the words spoken to the robot Gort
in the classic 1950’s movie “The Day
the Earth Stood Still.”  I was, to say the least, dumbfounded that anyone would actually remember Gort much less those words (talk
about arcane).  I responded with “You remember
Gort?”  At which point everyone at the
table responded with an affirmation. 

As I heard this response, I thought of all of you who wrote me and gently took me to task for leaving Gort out of my Top 10 List of Famous Robots ( The
Greatest Fictional Robots of all
Time; Terminator, AWSOM-O and more
and Part
II: The Greatest Fictional Robots of
all Time

So, to make amends to all of you
(and that means you, you Gort lovers, I am adding Gort plus 4 more famous
robots that I was remiss in leaving out of my original tally.

Tik-Tok of Oz

This one surprised even me as I am a big fan
of the Oz series and Tik-Tok was one of my favorite characters.  He is also important in robot history, as L.
Frank Baum, the author, invented the character in 1914, six years before Karel
Capek invented the word “robot.”

As you would surmise by his name, Tik-Tok is
a wind up robot who requires three keys: 
One for speech, one for movement and one for one for thinking. 

Tom Servo

Many of you watched Mystery Science Theatre
(MS3T3K) in your youth (don’t deny it) and became fans of Tom Servo, one
of the robots who accompanied the human, Joel Robinson, as he was forced to
watch horrible (fun kind of horrible) science fiction movies from the
1950’s.  Here is how Wikipedia describes
Tom:  “Tom Servo is a red puppet that has a gumball machine… for a head, a body composed of a toy … coin bank and a toy car engine
block, and a bowl-shaped hovercraft skirt …instead of legs. His arms are pair
of small white ventriloquist's dummy hands on the ends of springs that are not
really functional as arms…His shoulders are made from the front of an Eveready
Floating Lantern.”

The show was funny and so was Tom Servo as
was his robot companion “Crow T. Robot.” 


Those of you who watch Futurama are familiar
with Bender, the egomaniacal, beer swilling robot with a nasty temper.  He is, in short, a semi-lovable, cigar
smoking ass.  He was created by Mom's Friendly Robot Company but he
is actually the brainchild of Simpson’s creator, Matt Groening. 

and finally:

R. Daneel Olivaw


R. Daneel Olivaw, the “R” stands for Robot,
was a character which showed up in many of the novels and short stories
authored by Isaac Asimov.  Asimov began
writing about robots in the 1942, 22 years after

Capek and 28 after Baum. 

Asimov essentially saw robots as benign and
went so far as to invent the “Three Laws of Robotics:”

  1. A robot
    may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to
    come to harm.
  2. A robot
    must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders
    would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot
    must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not
    conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Olivaw looked like a human so we could say he
was the progenitor of androids like Data on Star Trek.



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