Robots walked among us in 1928. Well, one of them, anyway. Eric, created by British roboticists almost 90 years ago, wowed audiences the world over before his mysterious disappearance some time later. Now, curator Ben Russell is on a mission to rebuild Eric and restore a fascinating piece of cultural history. But he needs your help on Kickstarter to do it.
Working with the Science Museum and expert roboticist Giles Walker, Ben wants to recreate Eric as he appeared all those years ago. Eric was a quintessential robot, and apparently quite the English gentleman. He was a walking, talking automaton who appeared on stage to speak and strut before audiences. An impressive sight even by today’s standards– back in 1928 the experience must have been otherworldly.
Eric was originally created by Captain W.H. Richards and A. H. Reffell. He was one of the world’s first robots and was made less than a decade after the word robot first appeared in the English lexicon. He was deemed an “almost perfect man” by the New York press and was eminently British.
Eric then mysteriously vanished a few years later. No one quite knows what happened to him. Was he merely lost, still locked in some darkened room somewhere? Was he destroyed, or scrapped for parts? Nobody knows, for no record of his vanishing remains. Thankfully, the same cannot be said for the rest of Eric’s existence.
With plenty of footage of the tin man himself, as well as plenty of logs and records, it is possible to recreate Eric exactly as he was back then. And recreation is exactly what Ben and the Science Museum is looking for. No modern updates or senseless changes; just an exact recreation of an incredible piece of scientific history that somehow vanished into the ether.
Should they succeed in their task, the plan is for the Science Museum to display Eric on October 2016. This display will be open to all and free of charge. After that, he will become a fixture of the Museum’s major Robots exhibition, which will open in February 2017. As one of the world’s first robots, Eric (or at least a perfect recreation of him) will no doubt be the jewel of such an exhibit.
If you’re interested in seeing Eric brought back to life, head over to their Kickstarter page to chip in. If you have any crackpot theories about the original Eric’s current whereabouts (my personal one is that he is hiding on the moon until he is powerful enough to destroy humanity) then leave a comment below.