Robot With Mechanical Brain Thinks Up Story Plots (Mar, 1931)

And if you chip some teeth off a few of the gears you end up with Momento.

Robot With Mechanical Brain Thinks Up Story Plots

FORMERLY robots were merely mechanical devices that could perform a variety of stunts under the guidance of a human being, but now a robot has made its appearance that thinks, has a soul of a kind, creative imagination, and other qualities necessary for writing a modern stereotyped short story. This robot, the invention of Wycliffe Hill, a Los Angeles scenario writer, is declared to be able to build up millions of plots, no two alike, for magazine stories or movie plays.

Mr. Hill has equipped his robot with an index chart, divided into eight sections, one devoted to each of the eight elements of a story-— background, character, obstacle, problem, predicament, complication, crisis and climax—and with an assortment of variations. The robot selects the material as required from this inexhaustible source and builds plots that could never be imagined by the author without the aid of the mechanical brain. Now if you want to become a successful author simply obtain a robot and put it to work.

14 comments
  1. Mike says: December 6, 20109:45 am

    So he wrote down a bunch of plots, and the robot picks characters and matches it with a plot? Only the robot could create this? Then again, with all the repeated stories and remakes coming out of Hollywood maybe they need something like this.

  2. Charlene says: December 6, 20109:57 am

    That thing is going to haunt my nightmares.

    The robot’s pretty scary too.

  3. r peltier says: December 6, 201011:10 am

    So this is how all those soap operas were created, good job Robbie.

  4. Myles says: December 6, 201011:48 am

    I think they mixed up the words “random number generator” with “robot” . You get an idea of what the device actually looks like in the upper right corner of the picture being held. It has eight dials pointing to numbers mounted on a wooden block, so obviously it has a soul of a kind.

  5. Yaos says: December 6, 201011:59 am

    I was under the impression they used Manatees so move idea balls from one side of the tank to the other.

  6. Kosher Ham says: December 6, 201012:54 pm

    Now it is easy to emulate the ‘bot’s mechanical brain with software.

  7. Jari says: December 6, 20102:14 pm

    Sounds like an extended version of an old child’s play, where first child wrote a object (person etc.), second one what the object does and third one where and when it happened on separate slips of papers. Resulting hilarity, when it was read out. I don’t know what it’s called in English, in Finnish it was “*******n posti”. Stars, because it’s not politically correct :-)

  8. Toronto says: December 6, 20102:17 pm

    No, they use sea lions. The last time they used manatees in a film was during the docking of the Hindenberg, and we all remember what happened then. Seems they overfed the poor beasts, causing them to bloat up, then to fart. The sudden noise and blast of flatulance caused the airship to lose control and crash, while the reporter on hand shouted his famous line:

    “Oh, the huge Manatees!”

  9. Toronto says: December 6, 20103:19 pm

    Yaos: No, they haven’t used manatees in film work since 1932. They had some on hand to help write smalltalk for the reporters covering the arrival of the Hindenburg, but unfortunately they overfed them and the bloated. Just as the airship was arriving they let out enourmous farts, startling the pilot and causing the crash.

    You may recall the reporter’s off-the-cuff cry:

    “Oh, the huge manatees!”

  10. Toronto says: December 6, 20103:22 pm

    Yaos: No, they haven’t used manatees in folm production work since 1937. They had a few on hand at Lakehurst, NJ, to help write some smalltalk for the reporters gathered to see the dockingof the Hindenburg. Unfortunately they were overfed and bloated quite a bit.

    Just as the airship hove into view, they let our some enormous farts, startling the pilot and causing the infamous crash. One of the reporters saw the root cause right away, and shouted out “Oh, the huge manatees!”

  11. Mike says: December 7, 20106:23 pm

    Jari, we used to have books called “Ad-libs” as children, I am sure the books are still around, an on-line version can be found here. The user inputs names, nouns, verbs, adjectives and objects, etc and places those within the plot. Each page reload creates a different story.

  12. Firebrand38 says: January 3, 20115:38 pm

    Its actually more involved. The Plot Robot is an early version of what later sold as the Plot Genie
    http://thepulp.net/Pulp…
    http://www.slate.com/id…

    Operating principles may be found in the links.

  13. Arun says: May 9, 20114:02 am

    what happens when brain starts to think about itself.
    find out on http:// brainthinks.blogspot.co…

  14. jayessell says: March 21, 20135:20 pm

    This will put millions of monkeys out of work!

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.