Latest By

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

"[Science fiction is ] That branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance upon human beings."
- Isaac Asimov

  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
  - Smart Glove Controls 3D Printed Robotic Arm (Waldo!)

Articles related to Engineering
Dune Fans! Power Your Devices With Sweaty Shirts
Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
Drones Guided By The Mind Alone

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

Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

TMS Decreases Belief In God, Increases Belief In Immigrants
'... setting up the same currents, the same basic ideas, in them all.'

Loomo Mini Transporter Robot Companion You Ride On
'Slowly the [robot] horse raised its head, wiggled its ears, blinked twice, gave a tentative whinny.'

Soft Robotics - Now With 3D Printed Sensors!
'A series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce the amount of pressure necessary to snap a bone...'

AI Tool Lynx Insight And The Cybernetic Newsroom
'The structure,... was once a great homeostatic newspaper, the New York Times. It printed itself directly below us...'

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.'

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'

Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'

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.