85 Years of Robots
By James Grahame
Czech writer Karel Capek coined the term 'robot' to describe humanoid androids designed for menial and repetitive labor. His play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) opened in Prague in 1921, replete with political undertones. To celebrate, Cambridge University social anthropologist Kathleen Richardson organized The Robot Project to explore their history and meaning.
Richardson comments, "We've come to think of robots in a kind of sub-cultural way or, you know, as characters in Star Wars. So really, what I wanted to do with the whole project was to try and reclaim the robot - not only as technological object and an entertainment one, but as the political object that Capek intended." [By the way, Retro Thing contributor Bohus Blahut is either a Czech or a robot... I can't remember which... -ed]
The Robot Turns 85 (Radio Praha)