Sunday, November 19, 2017
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Boilerplate – History’s Mechanical Marvel

050-1When you first behold this fine coffee-table book, part of your mind will wonder why you have never heard of “Boilerplate”— the very first fully functional humanoid robot? He is shown above with his inventor, Professor Archibald Balthazar Campion, in an 1893 photo. Boilerplate can be seen plainly in many dozens of period photographs and posters— in the Wild West, at the South Pole freeing a ship from the ice, with Mark Twain and 050-4Nikolai Tesla (fitting company for an intelligent machine!), with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and even palling around with Lawrence of Arabia! The last known photo of Boilerplate shows him on the American line in the Argonne forest, a shell exploding in front of him. This book is much more than a spoof of expertly doctored historical photos. This lavish, richly illustrated work takes a charming, humorous and sometimes trenchant look at history—as in the shot of Boilerplate standing with young coal miners in an apparent experiment involving robotic mining that could benefit those overworked kids. Boilerplate, Professor Balthazar’s greatest invention, was intended to lessen conflict among nations and to help people, and there are 350 full-color illustrations and photos showing how he allegedly did just that. Created by husband-and-wife team Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, this fanciful book will be loved by roboticists of all ages. Abrams Image, $24.95 U.S., $32.50 CDN

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