An Introduction to Automata – Fred the Head

Lyn Wright was a serious collector, restorer and hobbyist of automata. To convey the sense of fun as well as understanding about how these mechanical devices work, he constructed a set of ‘skeleton’ models to show how some of the basic functions worked. Before we continue with Fred a summary of his forbears is due……

The Ancient Greeks seemed obsessed with attempting to produce a mechanical form of human being. They made animated statues for ceremonial use, no doubt to impress and overawe their audience in order to convince them that supernatural powers were at work. Oracles and soothsayers were part of the human psyche, so a little human intervention by way of levers and cams etc, operated by hand, steam or water power, did not come amiss! Of course the Greeks were not alone and other cultures have evidence of such activity…….

…………..George Moore made a walking man in 1893 that worked from steam produced by a gas-fired boiler. It reached a speed of 9 miles an hour. There is, of course, much more to the history of automata. In subsequent issues of Mechanical Music World we will return again to Fred the Head.

From Issue 3 (Winter 2015/16) of Mechanical Music World. To read this article in full become a member and receive a copy. Full detail on “Membership Page”