I’ll bet nearly every kid who grew up to be an engineer loved robots. I’m not sure what the magic was, but soon after I fell in love with dinosaurs, I developed a new love: robots. Some were scary, like the deadly ray-shooting robot in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Others were lovable, like Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet. Some were terrifying. HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey was nightmarish with its calm, patronizing tone. To this day, I’m a sucker for both dinosaurs and robots. While I now watch most movies at home, there is one feature that will pull me to the big screen -- a great robot.
Here’s a look at robots depicted in movies and on TV during the 1950s and 1960s. We tried to collect the classics here, omitting the scores of forgettable B movies such as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. Stay tuned for slideshows of robot stars from later decades.
Click on the robot below to start the slideshow.
1965: Doctor Who and the Daleks. The Daleks appear on the long-running British TV show, Dr. Who. These automated pod monsters are from Skaro, a planet scarred by an ancient nuclear war. Dr. Who visits the planet to free its citizens from these metallic-voiced robots who are out to exterminate organic creatures. (Source: themindrobber.co.uk)
Nice slideshow Rob. The vision of the movie makers of the 50s and 60s is admirable, as the technology at that time had not been this superior to think of something like that. The robots of today's movies are even more advanced as now we have great animations, looking forward to the list of today's movie robots.
Rob, some of these are indeed scarry. The Daleks especially. One thing, though. They actually had organic creatures in them. They are genetically modified and placed in the "shell". Their only goal is to "exterminate".
As for HAL, I wil always remember his last line. "Will I dream?"
Hide the human inside, good one. I remember watching many of these shows and it never occurred to me that the special effects were very bad. Now I see some of these old shows and can actually pick out the seams and the fasteners holding the costume onto the actor inside.
As an adolescent male watching Lost in Space, I was much more interested in Penny than the robot but I remember reading somewhere that the "torso" of "robot was the tub from a top loading washing machine. Anyone else hear that?
I never knew the HAL9000 was a parody of IBM!It makes me think of the scene in "Pirates of Silicon Valley" where Steve Jobs motions privately that Bill Gates may be just as big a monster as Big Blue, IBM.
Believe it or not, I think Rocky had a robot in Rocky IV, where he fought the menacing Russian, Ivan Drago. The movie was supposed to have a theme of technology vs. the human spirit, which was pretty lame.
Arthur C. Clark has said on multiple occaisions that this urban legend is not true. That its intent was to be the acronym for Heuristic ALgorithmic. In fact, he said that if he and Stanley Kubrick had realized this before they would have changed the name (glad he didn't).
I guess that I missed the parody of IBM in 2001. But it was a rude awakening about the way the highpitched shills screamed that it was a great movie. It was one of the biggest wastes of money and time as far as movies go. Still, I would call 2001 JUNK. Even despite having an actual plot.
You forgot the movie Gog (1954), with robots Gog and Maygog, which wreak havoc on scientists in a government facility (building a space station) in New Mexico. They were controlled by a supercomputer (NOVAC). I remember watching this on a b&w TV and being mesmerized!
Good catch, Kamikubv. I skipped a few of the more obscure movies during these two decades. there were a number of low-budget films made in the US ande Japan during this time. Interestingly, Gog was 3D, one of the few of that era.
Here's one for your '70s slideshow, Rob...Westworld was a movie based on a Michael Crichton script about a Western-themed amusement park where a malfunctioning robot takes over. According to various Internet sites (which we know are always accurate) it's being remade. The original starred Yul Brynner.
I really enjoyed the slides about these movie type robots. I can remember as a kid, I wanted a Robot from the TV show Lost and Space. When I received an erector set for Christmas, I immediately tried to build it. Very nice slide deck and thank you for the found memories!
This is a fun slideshow, but while you mention Dr. Who, what about K-9?? I actually wrote a whole article about this robot for another publication last year on the anniversary of the show. K-9 was so popular, he got his own spinoff!
My daughter got married last fall and she had a Doctor Who themed wedding. I built a Tardis Police-Box Photo Booth using 3 hollow core doors and her iPad/w a printer. She made a K9 Envelope/Card box, a full scale facsimile of the robo-dog from the show... and a boat load of other decorations that were show specific. Including the watchpart carnations for the guys and the time traveler bouquets for the girls. That show is huge with some people right now.
I also have a small Kronos Conqueror of the Universe poster on the wall in my office here at work... In honor of the time keeping system we use "Kronos". I've read that it's the biggest most used employee tracking system in the world Universe.
Wow, Ralphy Boy, your daughter's wedding sounds really creative. I found when I was doing my research for the Dr. Who article I wrote that it's true, there are still a lot of fans for this classic TV show. I met a guy who hosts an Internet radio show just about Dr. Who. I personally was not a fan and never really saw the show but clearly it won over lots of viewers.
Elizabeth, Dr. Who is certainly one of the much more creative shows, and a welcome departure from most "formula" entertainments.
And there are all sorts of robots-things, which clearly point out a number of serious things that could logicly develop if robotic development is not done responsibly. The whole idea of a self-aware robot is an example of what could lead to a real set of disasters. Conside the "4D's" of robot uses, and what would happen if a robot decided that something was too dangerous for it. Or even if it was just too dirty? Just one example of why caution should be used in development projects.
Mr. Spiegel I enjoyed the article on 1950s and 60s robots.
My 16 year old son son builds Daleks and takes them to the sci-fi conventions. He takes the motors and control electronics out of power assist chairs and uses them to drive the Dalek. If any of your readers want to see, he has a facebook page showing him building them. http://www.facebook.com/DerekTheRedDalek.
As a dad you understand I am quite proud of a kid who has the skills and personal drive to build and operate six foot tall robots [and I have learned to give the kid his space & not to supervise him too physically close after a nasty encounter with his pneumatic nail gun and an 18 gage wire nail through the thumb].
@GTO, I cant claim to be in touch with the robot movies from the 50's and 60's (that's a little too early for me) but I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on the Star Trek original series and can still remember those lovely robot women Mudd had. Pretty creative and very artistic they were too!
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