In 1928, only seven years after Czech writer Karel Capek first used the word “robot”, the United Kingdom built a working automaton of their own, unimaginatively named Eric. Now, almost 90 years later, a museum wants to rebuild him.
As part of a Kickstarter campaign, the London Museum of Science is asking for £35,000 ($68,741) to recreate Eric in all his former 1928 glory, so he can take his rightful place in the museum’s exhibit that will trace the 500-year history of robots, set to open in February 2017.
The museum isn’t entirely sure what happened to the original and guesses that he was probably dismantled for spare parts. However, the creators of the project did track down descendants of the robot’s original creators, Captain Richards and A.H. Reffell, and gathered more reference material in order to faithfully recreate Eric.
Before you scoff at this sacrilegious act to our future robot overlords, Eric couldn’t actually do much. Despite being called “an almost perfect man”, he could only sit down, stand up, jerk his limbs about and utter a few canned phrases — and that’s about it. He was more a carnival wonder than a mystifying leap into the future. Nevertheless, it’s easy to draw at least some visual comparisons between the humanoid Eric and the much more complicated bipedal robots of today.
The only bad news for sympathetic Australians looking to reboot a long lost piece of robot history is that most of the listed rewards will only ship to the European Union, so your donation might be more of a charity contribution than a Kickstarter purchase.