The automatic servant of Philon (the first operating robot of humanity)

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The automatic servant of Philon
(the first operating robot of humanity)


This was a human-like robot in the form of a maid which in her right hand held a jug of wine. When the visitor placed a cup in the palm of her left hand, she automatically poured wine initially and then she poured water into the cup mixing it when desired.

Description of the operation: Inside the maid,there are two airtight containers (with wine and water, respectively). At their bottom there are two tubes leading their content through her right hand to the lip of the jug of wine. Two air pipes start at the top of the containers, go through their bottom and lead curved into her stomach. Her left arm is linked, through the articulation, to her shoulders, while a winding rod (spring) that is positioned in extension of the restraining rod raises it. Two pipes start at the same point (joint) and come down (going through and freeing the curved perforated ends of the air pipes). The pipes of the joint have two holes or tears at their ends, with the hole in contact with the container of wine preceding that which is connected with the water container. When the cup is placed into the maid's palm, her hand comes down and the tubes of the joint are lifted. The hole in one pipe is aligned with the air pipe of the wine container, air enters the container and wine flows from the tube into the cup. When the cup of wine is half- full, the hand (due to weight) descends further, the passage of the air pipe of wine obstructs and the flow stops. At the same time the other tube is aligned with the air pipe of the water container and it begins to flow thus diluting the wine. When the cup is full, the hand (due to weight) descends further, the passage of the air pipe with water obstructs and the flow stops. Also, if the cup is removed at any moment, the left hand rises, the tubes of the joint descend, cutting off the air pipes, creating vacuum in the containers and stopping the liquid flow. The maid then fills the cup with wine or diluted with water of desired quantity depending on the time it is pulled from her palm.

SOURCES: ''Philon of Byzandium, Pneumatics''