Friday, 3 December 2010

The Magic Robot

Last week I was out and about for work and had driven after delivering a Process Review training session from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury where I had a meeting the following day.

Having checked into the hotel I went out for a meal to find Shrewsbury was still very busy with people walking about and loaded with shopping. It turned out that they had just switched on their Christmas lights in the town centre that night.

Walking back to the hotel after eating I came across this charity display in a toy shop window.

An Amazing Robot! I remember them being "Magic Robot" but whether that was an alternative name or my befuddled memory I'm not sure! This was a favourite toy when I was small. In the late 50s and early 60s this simple toy indeed seemed magic.

The robot figure went into a socket circled by questions and you turned it until the rod held by the robot pointed to the question that you wanted answering. You then took the figure from the socket and placed it on a circle of mirrored foil surrounded by the answers to the questions from around the socket and "by magic" the robot spun until the rod pointed at the correct answer!

It was done with a simple magnet - a staple tool of toys in the 1950s and 60s. The robot was fastened into a swivelling base and that, when fitted into the socket, was held fast so that when you turned the robot to your question you were turning it within its own base. This meant that the polarity of the magnet in the robot was positioned so that when it aligned with the magnet beneath the mirror, the robot would swivel to the correct answer every time! Clever!

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