Robotics history

Although robotics history can be traced as far back as the ancient times, robots are usually regarded as something belonging to the future, or at least as something really new and innovative. While that is true, the idea of artificial life-like creatures is as old as the world itself.

Sometimes we are tempted to think that we live in the most advanced time in history. Because of the technological development in the near past we like to think that we are the smartest people of all time. Nevertheless, technological development is like a pyramid.

cairo, pyramids
Image by Tim Kelley, released under Creative Commons license.

Let me explain this thought. Everything you see around you, everything you use and perceive as essential, actually has a great history behind it. Many people have dedicated their lives to explore certain phenomena. Without this work by various people throughout the history, many technological achievements we know today wouldn't have been achieved.

I will try to move closer to the history of robotics. Robotics, as we understand it today, involves numerous fields of knowledge - mechanics, electronics, IT and others. So, history of these fields is related to robotics history as well.

Of course, I'm not going to tell you everything about technological development in these fields. It would take way more than this site. Nevertheless, I will try to discuss not only robots and their history, but some breakthroughs in other fields that seem relevant in light of robotics history as well. Below you can find different articles on different topics, they are roughly arranged as a time-line.

Ancient robots

Robots seem to be a bit misplaced in antiquity, right? Well don't be confused. I'm not really talking about r2-d2s or some alien robots building the pyramids. When talking about ancient robots I mean devices that resemble a living/moving organism and/or are "programmable" in some way. Read more on ancient robots...

Al Jazari, Banu Musa and the Islamic golden age

The news we have from the antiquity is rather limited. The closer the past, the better information sources we have. Written texts were very important in the medieval Islamic society. They read, translated and built upon the works of ancients thus pushing the development even further. Read more on automation development in the Islamic golden age...

Leonardo da Vinci

Although people view Leonardo da Vinci primarily as an artist, his achievements in engineering are quite astonishing. Da Vinci's robots are an important example of human interest in automated devices throughout history. Read more on Leonardo da Vinci robots...

Ada Lovelace and the Analytical Engine

Software is an essential part of any robot. But when did it all start? It turns out - some hundred years before first "modern" computers were invented. Read the extraordinary story of Ada Lovelace and the Analytical Engine. Read more on Ada Lovelace and the Analytical Engine...

Joseph Marie Jacquard

The history of computing is tightly related to the history of robotics, as it's not possible to create a robot without programming. Joseph Marie Jacquard is widely regarded as the inventor of the first highly successful re-programmable machine. Read more on Joseph Marie Jacquard...


Nowadays there are animatronics as well as entertainment and toy robots that amuse us. So there were no artificial beings created by humans that resemble animals or people before the rise of robotics? Wrong! Automatons clearly show how interested people have been at all times in imitating life.Read more on automatons...

Karakuri ningyo

Karakuri ningyo are Japanese mechanical puppets. Because of their impact on Japanese view on robotics they take a really significant spot in robotics history. While there are some similarities with western automatons, the idea and purpose of them are often quite different.Read more on Karakuri Ningyo...

Karel Capek and R.U.R.

For the first time in history the word 'robot' was used in the play R.U.R. by Karel Capek, published in 1921. Although the author wasn't the actual inventor of this term we have it in our vocabularies because of his work.Read more on Karel Capek and R.U.R...

Fritz Lang's Metropolis

We all have seen movies with robots in them. Star Wars, I Robot are just a few examples. Have you ever wondered when did it all start? It was Fritz Lang's movie 'Metropolis' that featured the first robot in motion pictures.Read more on Fritz Lang's Metropolis...






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