By Antonio A. Casilli (Telecom Paristech ENST - Centre Edgar-Morin EHESS, Paris)

Vintage Swiss giant robot: « how much ya bench? »

Yes, I know. As of lately, I’ve been an absent father to this blog. It’s the summertime and I’m just trying to snatch a little holiday between my upcoming projects and my close-to-finished book. So I came to Zurich to enjoy the lake, the sun and my cryptic interests – which include giant robots. Yes, I know. I’ve been watching too many Mazinger’s anime as a kid. Which would probably explain my childlike fascination with Sabor V, a 237 cm, 270 kg pile of metal and transistors I discovered at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).

There are so many reasons why I find it intriguing. I mean, the first prototype was built in 1928, just a few years after the actual invention of the word « robot » by Karel Čapek. At the same time I find it so wrong – on so many levels. Starting with the name: who would call a robot Sabor V? It sounds something halfway between a demented Spanish king and a Hungarian supervillain. But then again, I also find it so profoundly representative of the 20th century notions of humanity -  or at least of the notion of humanity a Swiss engineer could have back in the days. I could go on and write a lengthy essay developing all these topics. But as I said at the beginning: holidays, rest, lake. No writing. So I’ll paste a series of questions and a bunch of links and let you, Beloved Reader,  do the thinking. Enjoy.

—a

Robot Sabor being controlled by owner Paul Waltensperger_1952

Here are the questions:

• When was the first Sabor prototype invented?
• Who was the actual creator?
• What was Sabor designed for?
• Did Sabor ever appear on TV?
• What’s with the smoking thing?
• What’s with them feet?
• Why was Sabor flirtatious with women?
• Why of all places the robot was invented in Switzerland?
• Can you develop on the ideal of masculinity embodied by Sabor?
• Most importantly, how much could Sabor bench?

And here are the links:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5

Link 6

Link 7

Link 8

Link 9

Link 10

Link 11

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karel_%C4%8Capek
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