Westinghouse put Elektro the robot on exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Seven feet tall, Elektro was made of aluminum and powered by a gears and motors. He had a vocabulary of 700 words, and could distinguish red from green, blow up balloons and smoke cigarettes. Also, he could walk and move his arms, but that’s not important – he could blow up balloons and smoke cigarettes!
Could you imagine seeing this thing on display in 1939? I would have been convinced that robot butlers were right around the corner. He went on to tour the country in the 1950s, and eventually was retired to a museum. Not before he had a cameo role in the 1960 film “Sex Kittens Go To College” as Sam Thinko, the campus computer. What a life!
Here’s some footage of him from the 1939 World’s Fair, where he demonstrates his amazing cigarette-smoking ability.