Latest By

Artificial Intelligence
Data Storage
Input Devices
Living Space
Space Tech
Virtual Person

"I'm very taken by mythology. I read it at a very early age and kept on reading it. Before I discovered science fiction I was reading mythology."
- Roger Zelazny

  A telefactoring device; also known as the Waldo F. Jones Synchronous Reduplicating Pantograph.  

This story has been largely forgotten (even though it still makes great reading). The notion of a waldo, however, has not. The word itself has come into common usage; the American Heritage Dictionary describes it as follows: "A mechanical agent, such as a gripper arm, controlled by a human limb." Real-life waldoes were developed for the nuclear industry during WWII; they were named after the invention described by Heinlein.

This technology is known today by the more generic term "telefactoring"; it is used in a variety of industries.

Waldo put his arms into the primary pair before him; all three pairs, including the secondary pair before the machine, came to life. Waldo flexed and extended his fingers gently; the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.
From Waldo, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1942
Additional resources -

Heinlein shows his creativity by giving his character a problem (myasthenia gravis - degenerative muscle weakness) and then literally giving him the tool to solve it. You'll also enjoy his laboratory (in orbit, of course, to give Waldo maximum mobility).

A pantograph is a device with a simple physical connection between a pointer and a drawing pen on a piece of paper. Altering the linkage between the pointer and the pen alters the scale of the drawing. The pantograph dates from 1630. Thomas Jefferson liked them; he built one into Monticello.

In Oath of Fealty, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, telefactor operators who all live in the same arcology assist in a variety of tasks around the globe (and on the moon). At one point, they go on strike; a case of acting locally and globally.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 5 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Waldo
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Waldo
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Waldo-related news articles:
  - Tmsuk T52 Enryu Support Dragon Hyper Rescue Robot
  - Robonaut Performs Hubble Space Telescope Repair Tasks
  - Robonaut Centaur At NextFest 2006
  - Heinlein's Giant Waldo Comes To Life
  - Mediseus Surgical Drilling Simuator Remote Haptic Tutor
  - Be Master To Robot Slave
  - RAPUD Robotic Arm Helps Disabled Reach
  - Giant Robotic Hand Video
  - WIND Wearable Robot Controller
  - PossessedHand Borgs Your Hands To Teach You
  - Raytheon Sarcos Exoskeletonized Ditch Witch
  - Festo ExoHand Fine Motor Skill Robotic Hand
  - Calligraphy Robot Preserves An Ancient Skill
  - CAPIO Exoskeleton Controls AILA Robot

Articles related to Engineering
Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
BitDrones Flying Microbots Model Programmable Matter
Starship Turbolift Elevators Coming From ThyssenKrupp AG
Reduce Hurricanes By Altering The Atmosphere

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.





Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.





More News

ANNABELL AI Can Learn English From Scratch
'...Could understand not only classic programming but also Loglan and English..."

Tesla Suit Gives Haptic Hugs
'Then a pressure on the lips...'

Surgically Implantable Artificial Kidney Starts Testing
'George Walt... proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'

Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
'That moisture trickles down...'

Senate Passes Space Mining Legislation
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite...'

Microsoft's Surface Book Is Part Clipboard
'Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications...'

Police Use Predictive Maps ala 'Minority Report' Routinely
'...the data-receptors, and the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'

Tesla Autopilot Road Trip 2995 Miles, 57 Hours
'The beautiful old car cruised ... under the guidance of its automatic controls...'

The 'Marching Mountains' Of Pluto
Calling Captain Future!

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.