THE AUTOMATIC MAIDSERVANT OF PHILO
This invention is described in the Pneumatics of Philo of Byzantium, a 3rd century BC engineer who lived in Alexandria. It is an automaton (robot) in the form of a (life-size) maidservant holding a wine jug in her right hand. Inside the effigy were two tanks, one for wine and one for water (as the Greeks used to drink their wine diluted), and a mechanism consisting of liquid and air tubes. By placing a cup on the extended left hand of the maidservant, the mechanism started to work. Air pressure pushed the liquids (first wine and then water) through the right arm into the jug and then into the cup, in the desired proportion. The automatic maidservant is the first known functional robot.
The design of Philo’s automatic maidservant on the obverse of the coin is based on a reconstruction by the Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology.
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