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"We [science fiction writers] always wanted to believe in "private sector" space -- hucksters make better characters than a government does."
- Larry Niven

Robbie  
  A childcare robot.  

This is a very early reference to the idea of a robot as a childcare provider.

Robbie nodded his head - a small parallelepiped with rounded edges and corners attached to a similar but much larger parallelepiped that served as a torso by means of a short, flexible stalk - and obediently faced the tree. A thin metal film descended over his glowing eyes, and from within his body came a steady, resonant ticking.

"Don't peek now - and don't skip any numbers," warned Gloria, and scurried for cover.

With unvarying regularity seconds were ticked off, and at the hundredth, up went the eyelids and the glowing red of Robbie's eyes swept the prospect.

From Robbie, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Fictioneers, Inc. in 1940
Additional resources -

This story also emphasized the first of Asimov's famous laws of robotics.

Compare to Philip K. Dick's Nanny Robot, from a 1950's story collection.

See also the entry for psychophonic nurse from a 1928 story by David H. Keller.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Robbie
  More Ideas and Technology by Isaac Asimov
  Tech news articles related to Robbie
  Tech news articles related to works by Isaac Asimov

Robbie-related news articles:
  - Asimov's First Law Of Robotics Real-Life Beta
  - Robot Designed To Break First Law - In Order To Save It

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