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Animatronics before Walt Disney was even Born

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  • [Other] Animatronics before Walt Disney was even Born

    Turns out there was a man named Henri Maillardet who invented an automaton which was incredibly advanced for its day. He died in 1830 before Walt Disney was even born.
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    When I go to Disneyland, I tune my FRS Radio to channel 2, without a quiet code. They're faster than a cell phone and you can talk to a whole group at a time, and you don't have to get everyone's cell phone number in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Animatronics before Walt Disney was even Born

    Originally posted by MikeChat View Post
    Turns out there was a man named Henri Maillardet who invented an automaton which was incredibly advanced for its day. He died in 1830 before Walt Disney was even born.
    Walt Disney did not invent everything, but he took what was there and made it 100 times better.

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    • #3
      Re: Animatronics before Walt Disney was even Born

      From Wikipedia:

      Maillardet's automaton (or Draughtsman-Writer, sometime also known as Maelzel's Juvenile Artist orJuvenile Artist) is an automaton built in London circa 1800 by a Swiss mechanician, Henri Maillardet. This automaton was a principal inspiration for Brian Selznick's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret which was later adapted to make the film titled Hugo directed by Martin Scorsese.

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      • #4
        Re: Animatronics before Walt Disney was even Born

        There were many of these types of displays of advanced mechanical engineering in this era, often called "clockwork" items.

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        • #5
          Re: Animatronics before Walt Disney was even Born

          These amazing machines go wayyy back. Here's one from the 1770s:

          Incredible mechanical boy built 240 years ago who could actually write

          Walt saw these things on his trips to Europe and was fascinated by them. They were part of the inspiration for his proposed "Disneylandia" traveling exhibit of miniature 3D animated scenes.
          "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
          Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
          imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

          - Neil Gabler

          "I didn't know the story of baby Jesus could be any better,
          until Thor told it to me."
          -
          Young girl at Disneyland's 2017 Candlelight Ceremony

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          • #6
            Re: Animatronics before Walt Disney was even Born

            These are great-- I've been fascinated by mechanical toys since taking a class back in college. Makes me want to dig up some old projects.

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            • #7
              The movie Hugo features many of these.

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              • #8
                Mechanical toys like that have been around long before Walt Disney got a hold of them.
                automatons like that were what Walt had taken apart to see how they worked.
                They even created a dancing man based off the cam system just like you show.
                There are also photos of Walt with a miniature version of the dinosaurs in the primeval world part of the train diorama.
                This used cams but then used pneumatics as well.

                Here is an article on the early days of animatronics:
                https://www.waltdisney.org/blog/earl...atronics%C2%A9

                The problem with the cam system is it didn't scale easily so what they ended up doing is creating cam discs and pneumatics for repetitive movement figures.
                There is at least one video out there of a pirate from the Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction where they are taking old 78 records and carving them and tuning the animatronic movement.

                Eventually they eliminated the cam systems on those units and now its all just digital control.

                So in many ways that automaton of days gone by is directly responsible for what we have today.



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