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"None of us, no matter what continent or island or ice cap, asked to be born in the first place, and that even somebody as old as I am, which is 80, only just got here."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Iron Man Robot With Human Brain  
  A huge robot with a tub containing a human brain.  

This is a relatively early description of the idea of a robot that is controlled by a human brain.

It all starts in Amos Klegg's laboratory...

Beside the switchboard was a plate-glass case about a foot square and two feet high. It was standing on a table. And in it, just under the top, were the eyes. Two eyes, undeniably human, glared at me.

Tlie case, I saw then, was full of a colorless fluid. And there was more, soaking placidly in the fluid, than a pair of eyeballs.

There was a brain behind the eyeballs, for one thing. A naked human brain, looking like the specimens you see pickled in glass jars at a medical school. The brain rested on a glass shelf near the top of the case. The eyes projected from the forepart of the wrinkled, grayish lump on two stalks that resembled antennas. The stalks, I recognized, were the optic nerves.

Leading down from the brain, like small trailing power cables, were a score or more of grayish-white, elastic-looking tubes. These, as they descended, branched into four main tubes. And these main tubes were finally rooted in—a human heart!

Yes, there was no mistaking it. Lying on the floor of the case, like a pallid mushroom growth tinged with red, was a human heart. And what was more—it was beating.

...Klegg said "It’s the brain of Tuzloff. You’ve heard of him?”

My eyes opened at that. Heard of him? Who has not! Bomber, murderer, outlaw, he had left a grim trail of death behind him for two years, until an outraged state had finally captured and executed him.

And what would you do with this setup? Put it inside a giant metal robot? Of course you would.

Dramatically he jerked the cord that swept away the canvas from the twenty-foot-high thing it had hidden. And as I saw what the canvas had concealed, I gasped and started back a pace.

It was a colossal man, of iron. Or, I should say, it was a grim metal travesty of a man.

Two stories up, brushing the roof of the lofty laboratory, was the thing’s "head”—a steel cylinder two feet in diameter and a yard high. In this, to carry out human resemblance, were cut eye-holes.

The cylinder was set, like a hat-box atop a hogshead, on a larger cylinder that made up the torso of the monstrous thing. Through the top of the larger cylinder ran a heavy casting, a beam which protruded a yard on either side. These protrusions were the "shoulders” and from them hung cylindrical arms, jointed, and ending in two-clawed pincers that took the place of hands.

The whole rested on two ponderous steel columns of legs, and the legs ended in "feet” which were solid metal pyramids with pivot joints at the apices for ankles.

"Watch it," said Klegg proudly.

He stared at it fixedly, his forehead wrinkling as if in terrific mental concentration. (I found out later that this was sheer theatrics; thought no more profound than a wish for pancakes for breakfast was enough to work the mechanism.)

In an instant the monstrous robot was set in ponderous motion. The iron man slowly lifted its right leg, slowly extended it in a forward step, and as slowly set it down. The left leg followed suit. In two strides the enormous thing was almost on top of us.

With a cry I leaped aside to avoid being crushed. But it stopped there, obedient to Klegg’s will.

From Iron Man, by Paul Ernst.
Published by Weird Tales in 1933
Additional resources -

What keeps it from falling over? A gyroscope, run by storage batteries in its chest.

I don't need to tell you, gentle reader, that it all ends badly. The scientist is murdered after he installs the brain in the robot.

The iron man, twenty tons of invulnerable metal, stalking through the crowded city—directed by the maniacal, revengeful brain of the mad Tuzloff! Twenty tons of steel, guided by a soft gray lump of pure hate in a salt solution! What horrible possibilities were there!

Yes, there was mayhem and destruction.

Street-cars knocked over and demolished, trolley poles broken off like celery stalks to trail live wires on the pavement, horrible red blotches everywhere on the slippery street—a tornado could not have left a plainer path...


('Iron Man' by Paul Ernst)

Glinting dully in the reflected light of street lamps and electric signs was the iron man, stalking down the street ahead of me.

Two stories up swayed the cylindrical head in which were the artificially preserved heart and the mad brain. "Two stories tall the figure teetered down the street, like a reeling tower. A three-yard step. Five seconds while the counterbalanced weights slid in accordance to the magnetic controls, lifting the other leg high and lowering it in advance. Another step. Five seconds. Another step. And with every step a crashing boom of twenty tons of metal banging down on stone paving—or on an automobile or human body.

Slowly the tower of the body leaned forward like a falling cliff with each advancing step, straightened as the stride was taken, leaned backward as the next was begun. Its giant arms, ending in the mighty pincers, clanged against its metal sides as it moved. Back and forth, back and forth, with each forward lunge carrying it farther toward the heart of the downtown district—and the theater and supper crowds teeming there.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Iron Man
  More Ideas and Technology by Paul Ernst
  Tech news articles related to Iron Man
  Tech news articles related to works by Paul Ernst

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