Jacques de Vaucanson – Complete Biography, History and Inventions

Jacques de Vaucanson (1709–1782) is a French engineer and inventor. He is responsible for creating the world’s first robots, the first automated loom, and building the first all-metal lathe.

Early life

Jacques Vaucanson was born in the French town of Grenoble in 1709. Vaucanson grew up poor and was the tenth child of a glove-maker.

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In 1728 Vaucanson decided to leave the monastery to devote himself to his mechanical interests, and departed to Paris, where he remained until 1731.

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The Flute Player of Jacques de Vaucanson

In 1737 Vaucanson completed The Flute Player. The Flute Player was a life-size figure of a shepherd. It played the transverse flute and had a repertoire of twelve songs. The tunes were played on a real instrument.

The Digesting Duck of Jacques de Vaucanson

The Digesting Duck was also referred to as the mechanical duck or the clockwork duck. It is considered his masterpiece. The Digesting Duck was made of gilded copper and had over 400 moving parts.

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