An automaton is a self-acting robot which behaves in a repetitive or predetermined fashion. This perfectly working example of a programmable robot shows us that an artist & craftsman was far ahead of anyone during his era. The watchmaker was indeed a mechanical genius who produced the future in his own time. Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790), a Swiss watchmaker, created three automatons in his life which can be now seen publicly.

One of these which he created in the 1770s, is known simply as 'The Writer'. That makes this amazing work of art almost 250 years old. The robot can write any word or sentence up to 40 characters in length. The letters and words would be preset and could be easily rearranged, meaning 'The Writer' could write virtually anything within the 40 character limit.

As well as writing, the doll is able to control the pressure of the quill on the paper while writing and the eyes follow the writing on the paper as if it is actually following what it is writing. What makes this an ancestor to modern computers is the fact that it was programmable. This amazing creation is an amazing enigma for this generation.

The famed watchmaker made two other automatons, 'The Musician' and 'The Draughtsman', which can all be seen together with 'The Writer' at the 'Art and History Museum' in Neuchatel, Switzerland. The three automatons are started up on the first Sunday of every month to the delight of museum-goers of all ages.

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