1805: The "Draughtsman-Writer" automaton by Henri Maillardet

In November of 1928, a truck pulled up to The Franklin Institute science museum in Philadelphia and unloaded the pieces of an interesting, complex, but totally ruined brass machine. Donated by the estate of John Penn Brock, a wealthy Philadelphian, the machine was studied and the museum began to realize the treasure it had been given.

Once repaired the automaton began to produce elaborate sketches and poems. In the border surrounding the final poem, the automaton wrote, "Ecrit par L'Automate de Maillardet", translating to "Written by the automaton of Maillardet". -
up to that point nobody had a clue what that machine was, or who it was made by.
"Back when automatons were made, trade secrets were common. They were lost, when the artisans died." - Automaton Caretaker.

Was allegedly made in 1805
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This Automaton, known as the "Draughtsman-Writer" was built by Henri Maillardet, a Swiss mechanician of the 18th century who worked in London producing clocks and other mechanisms. It is believed that Maillardet built this extraordinary Automaton around 1800 and it has the largest "memory" of any such machine ever constructed - four drawings and three poems (two in French and one in English).

The Maillardet's automaton is a highlight of the Amazing Machine permanent exhibit at The Franklin Institute. The Maillardet's automaton is always on display but the staff operate it only a few times a year for public demonstrations. The demonstrations show all seven drawings of the automaton as seen in the followings:
  • 3 poems produced by Maillardet's automaton

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  • 4 drawings produced by Maillardet's automaton

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Maillardet's automaton - Video

Henri Maillardet

Henri Maillardet was a Swiss mechanician of the 18th century who worked in London producing clocks and other mechanisms. He spent a period of time in the shops of Pierre Jaquet-Droz, who was in the business of producing watches, clocks, and automata.

In 1805 Henri Maillardet built a spring-activated automaton that draws pictures and writes verses in both French and English. The motions of the hand are produced by a series of cams located on shafts in the base of the automaton, which produces the necessary movement to complete seven sketches and the text. It is believed that this automaton has the largest cam-based memory of any automaton of the era.

Essentially this is all we know about Henri Maillardet... which is nothing.


I stumbled into this little article presented in the image below. I don't know what book it came from, but it is obviously an older one. These several paragraphs which I recommend you familiarize yourself with, demonstrate how little we know about that long gone civilization. That same civilization which was still placing Tartaria on their maps.


KD: I will just copy and paste the exact same thing I wrote for Kulibin's clock. Were such items built 200-250 years ago? Quite possible they were. But they were built by the people who had institutional knowledge of constructing things like this. They had proper tools and adequate education for building items of comparable qualities. They were fairly comparably advanced human civilization which was annihilated a few hundred years ago. In some areas they might have been even more advanced than ours. I will keep on providing circumstantial evidence of the existence of such a civilization.
  • Did Henri Maillardet build this automaton? If he did, he belonged to that civilization. Or may be his assignment in history is to be the creator of this beautiful masterpiece.