It’s easy to assume that robots are a relatively recent invention—but in fact, the history of robotics stretches back well over 2000 years. The first, a steam-powered “pigeon,” was created around 400 to 350 BCE by the ancient Greek mathematician Archytas.
Archytas constructed his robo-bird out of wood and used steam to power its movements. The bird, suspended from a pivot bar, was at one point able to fly about 200 meters before it ran out of steam—which makes Archytas’ experiment not just the first known robot, but was also one of the first recorded instances of a scientist doing research on how birds fly.
The inventor was also a very accomplished philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, commander, statesman, and strategist. Archytas founded mathematical mechanics—what we now call mechanical engineering—and was an elected General for seven consecutive years. This violated the law at the time, but because Archytas never lost a single battle in his time as strategos, the people decided to continue to elect him as the ruler of their city-state anyway.
via Mental Floss
November 14, 2012
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