7 Seminal Robots
1. Maria - 1927
One of the first robotic icons in science fiction, Maria appears in Metropolis, a silent German film directed by Fritz Lang and set in the year 2026 (at the time, 100 years in the future). The robot is never named in the film, but she is an attempt to make an evil mechanical duplicate of the beautiful heroine, Maria. Notice the similarities between this robot design and a certain very familiar droid created some 50 years later!
2. Gort – 1951
Introduced in the movie classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Gort comes to earth as the robot bodyguard of the mysterious spaceman, Klaatu. The film was released in the middle of the Cold War and Gort embodies the threat of the unknown. Klaatu’s famous command to Gort was “Klaatu barada nikto!” which stopped its program of destruction.
3. Robby - 1956
Robby made his first appearance in the 1956 MGM movie Forbidden Planet. Robby is the film’s most memorable character and is responsible for the cult status the movie carries. Robby was the first movie prop in history to receive star billing with the other principal actors in the film.
4. B9 – 1965
The robot from TVs Lost In Space, never given a name on the series, was designed by Robert Kinoshita, also the creator of Robby. Although endowed with superhuman strength and futuristic weaponry, he often displays human characteristics such as laughter, sadness and mockery. Most of all, who can forget his constant cries of “warning, warning,” which have become a familiar pop culture reference.
5. Daleks - 1966
The Daleks originally debuted in the long-running BBC-TV series Doctor Who. These short-ish, pepper-pot-shaped robotic monsters from the planet Skaro were evil mutants that were forced to live inside their protective machine casings due to harsh levels of radiation.
6. HAL 9000 - 1969
HAL is the central character in the film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey. As the brain of a spaceship Discovery, HAL is a robot that uses the mechanical sensing and information systems under its control and eventually is driven mad by the responsibility and secrets he bears. It has often been noted that the letters H A L are the letters that come before IBM but author Clarke always insisted that was a coincidence.
7. Dewey - 1972
This is one of the robots from the film Silent Running. Many science fiction films in the 1950s had political overtones. Silent Running updated the agenda to address the ecological threats that were becoming apparent on Earth. Believe it or not, these drone robots were mechanized costumes worn by actors who were double-amputees and could fit inside.