If the computer can be described as a thinking machine, then a robot can be descibed as a thinking and operating machine. Many centuries ago, men like Thomas Aquinas and René Descartes proposed that animals and even people might be regarded as automatic machines. Just to mention, that as of the end of 2010, there are approximately 9 million robots operating in the world.

Some of the inventors of calculating devices, mentioned in other sections of this site, like Leonardo da Vinci, Athanasius Kircher, Leonardo Torres, etc., designed also automatic machines. Other computer pioneers, such as Charles Babbage, used some elements from automata in their machines. That’s why the automatic machines (automata) deserve a separate section in this site:

Early (fairy-tale) automataCtesibius of Alexandria
Philon of ByzantiumHeron of Alexandria
The Arabic AutomataVillard de Honnecourt
Giovanni de la FontanaLeonardo da Vinci
Juanelo TurrianoSalomon de Caus
Athanasius KircherFriedrich von Knauss
Basile BouchonJacques de Vaucanson
Pierre Jaquet-DrozWolfgang von Kempelen
Henri MaillardetJohann Georg Strasser
Johann Friedrich KaufmannSteam Man of Zadoc Dederick
Leonardo Torres’s chess-machineElectric Dog
Thomas RossShakey of SRI
Isaac AzimovThe Robots of Westinghouse
The ROBOT of Karel ČapekEric Robot of Richards and Reffell