The 1940’s and 1950’s showed some real breakthrough’s in robotics. Driven by the imperatives of the atomic bomb programme, the US National Labs in Argonne developed the first teleoperated manipulator (or Master Slave Manipulator) in 1947 and added force feedback in 1948 and a slaved TV system (tracking the manipulator motions) in 1958.
Slightly earlier, in 1946, George Devol (note the name) was granted a patent for a general purpose playback device for machines, or, in current parlance, a teach & repeat device.
The first digital computer (ENIAC) was built in 1945 while Manchester University built the first stored program computer in 1948.
1948 saw the publication of Nobert Wiener‘s influential book “Cybernetics”, outlining his ideas on control & communication in both machines and animals.
George Devol sets up Universal Automation (later shortened to Unimation) with Joseph Engelberger in 1954 and starts work on developing programmable robots.
In 1956 John McCarthy coins the term “Artificial Intelligence” and in 1958 developed the LISP programming language.
The 1950’s also saw two of the most notable robot films, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Forbidden Planet”. Robots as a movie theme were to re-emerge in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
A brief history of Robotics