Cyberpunk Review » Robocop… circa 1924

July 9, 2008

Robocop… circa 1924

With the vast expanse of the Internet, you can come across some pretty amazing… and unbelievable… finds. Such as this description for a “Radio Police Automaton,” aka Robocop done steampunk.

Gernsback's Robocop

Originally, I found it via a Reddit link from Wired. But had to do a web search due to some technical problems at Reddit. The search lead me to the website of one David S. Zondy who had the images of the Gernsback-bot (a “Gernsbot”?) on his site.


Hugo Gernsback’s take on Alex Murphy. Only three years after Karel Čapek introduces the world to the word “robot” with his play “Rossum’s Universal Robots” (which came only one year after his brother, Josef, coined the word), Hugo puts his idea of a radio-controlled mechanical cop down on paper, complete with illustrations:

The Gernsback

Click on the image to see it full size (1161 x 1645)

As if the bot wasn’t intimidating enough, looking like it might be a good twelve feet high at least, Hugo added some non-lethal armaments:

For fighting mobs use is made of tear gas which is stored in a tank under pressure and which alone will quickly disperse a mob if neccssary. The arms are provided with rotating discs which carry lead balls on flexible leads. These act as police clubs in action.


In addition, they would also have headlight “eyes” and a loudspeaker “mouth,” and caterpillar-tread “feet” to advance on a mob while the police controllers operating the bots are safe “behind the lines” in their radio cars observing the action.


Wonder where the US military got the idea for a robot army from? Gernsback’s bot looks like a killer weekend project, just not many applications for such an army. Fortunately, we’re a long ways away from seeing police or soldier robots…

This post has been filed under Internet Find by Mr. Roboto.


July 9, 2008

Mr. No 1 said:

Very interesting, but I wonder if this is actually real. I’d not be surprised if someone uploaded it for the laugh.
Anyway, that thing looks like the drawings I used to do when I was little o.O

July 10, 2008

gridbug said:

WTF! Is that tankbot rolling over a real body? Or is it some kind of training exercise? The text on the magazine rack looks somewhat middle eastern…

Also, there’s a REMAKE of the original Robocop in the works. I’ll just let that sink in a moment. :)

Mr. Roboto said:

Cool tankbot, yes? That pic I saved from a Wired article earlier this year about the bot being used to see if the suicide bomber’s corpse (yep, real) had any explosives on it.

It was from Isreal.

July 16, 2008

Larry Steckler said:

Hugo Gernsback hired me as an assistant editor back in the late 50’s. I stayed with the company and became the owner until we closed our doors in 2002.

I’ve recently published a new 900-page biography about the life and times of Hugo Gernsback. It is available on Amazon. Just follow this link:

The manuscript was found while I was in the process of closing down Gernsback Publications Inc. in 2003. It was apparently written some time in the 1950’s. It covers all the areas that Hugo found interesting: wireless communications, science fiction, publishing, patents, foretelling the future, and much more.

Want more info? Contact me at

[…] and unbelievable… finds. Such as this description for a “Radio Police Automaton,” aka Robocop done […]

August 10, 2008

Bookmarks about Wired said (pingback):

[…] - bookmarked by 1 members originally found by magicmeg on 2008-07-19 Robocop… circa 1924 - bookmarked by 4 members […]

August 19, 2008

Carlos Oliveira said:

in the year: 2010. we get to see another Robocop movie. another sequel.

April 20, 2011

Shane said:

I’m from the National Inventors Hall of Fame and we’ve just inducted the inventor of the first “robot”, George Devol.

I’d like to use the images from this article. Could someone email me?

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