The Writer Automaton (VOSTFR)

one of the most remarkable realizations of CAM technology is a device in the shape of a small boy it’s perhaps the world’s most astonishing surviving automaton what’s on this card is a piece of writing made by a 240 year old machine one of my favorite machines one of the most magnificent automata of the 18th century it’s this boy this writer he was built in Switzerland by Pierre Jacques ADRA’s one of Switzerland’s greatest clock makers and the aim was I think to mechanize reason and automate the passions Jacques ADRA’s was about 50 years old in the early 1770s when he designed and built this masterpiece inside the boy are almost six thousand parts what’s astonishing is that every one of these crafted components has been refined and miniaturized to fit completely inside the body of the boy himself what Jacques ADRA’s did was to use the technologies of homeostasis of miniaturization to build really a true automaton inside the little writer as all his source of energy and all the machinery that drives him he works on his own at his core is a great stack of cabs as these cams move three can followers read they’re shaped edges and translate these into the movement of the boys are working together the cams control every stroke of the quill pen and exactly how much pressure is applied to the paper so as to achieve beautiful elegant and fluid writing with this sublime machine jockey DAWs had reverse engineered the very act of writing but the mechanical boy contained one perhaps even more astonishing feature the wheel that controlled the cans was made up of letters that could be removed and then replaced and reordered these allowed the writer in principle to make any word and any sentence in other words it allowed the writer to be programmed this beautiful boy is thus a distant ancestor of the modern programmable computer

5 thoughts on “The Writer Automaton (VOSTFR)

  1. Amazing, an 18th century programmable wonder built before the modern computer was even imagined. The precision and precise miniature construction proves that any talent can be honed to something very special. 


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