What is the origin of the word ‘robot’? And what were the first robots?

Karel Čapek
The word ‘robot’ was coined by the Czech Playwright, Karel Čapek (photo, left) in the play called RUR, which stood for Rossum’s Universal Robots. In the play, people have mechanical servants which look like people and do manual work for them. Capek called these machines robots from the Czech word robota, which means labor.
If we define a robot as a machine that works like a human being, then the first robots were Autometa: remarkable moving dolls that could copy human actions, sometimes with amazing facility, for example, one could write a whole sentence using a pen and ink.
Autometa were made in the 1700s,they worked by clockwork and contained very complex systems of gears. They were made purely to astound and entertain people and could not do physical tasks like modern robots. Those developed as machines became more and more automatic. However, only with the development of computers over the last 40 years or so have robots been able to perform complex tasks.

Additional reading:
Robot (Wikipedia)
Karel Čapek (Wikipedia)

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