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MMD > Archives > December 1996 > 1996.12.03 > 03Prev  Next

Jaquet-Droz Androids
By Beatrice Robertson

The Jaquet-Droz Androids are (nearly) alive and well and living in Neuchatel, Switzerland. It was a great experience to see them demon- strated by their "daddy", Mr. Amstutz, in a private showing this summer. He had opened the backs of the "children" so that we could see how they worked up close. They're truly amazing, especially considering that they were constructed in the mid 18th century. They are in beautiful condition, and are restored on a regular basis to keep them that way.

The "Scribe" is totally programable, with cams to create any letters needed for complete sentences. The "Draughtsman" is a darling little boy who can draw several different things; his special drawing for us was a small dog, which he then labeled "my doggy" -- in French, of course. And the "Musician" is a lovely young girl whose hands play the keys of a small organ (which can be played manually also). She breathes as she plays and does a small polite bow at the end of her performance.

Nothing you read or see on a video can prepare you for the experience of seeing these "children" perform in person.

Beatrice Robertson

(Message sent Tue 3 Dec 1996, 16:47:26 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Androids, Jaquet-Droz

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