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"I think we're still on that topic, still trying to figure out what computers are, how they change us, why we use them."
- Neal Stephenson

Radio-Controlled Mechanical Man  
  A remote-controlled robot.  

They were terrified at what they saw. It was described as being “a huge iron mass that resembled a man.” Violet-colored blazes raced over the hideous giant. Brilliant red lights glowed where its eyes should have been. The thing had arms and legs. It stood erect, turned its head from side to side in a monotonous manner with a mechanical leer on its metallic features.

The salesmen were paralyzed with fear as it stalked down the aisle of the store. Its feet were shod with rubber, apparently; for when it moved there were no noises other than a slight grinding whirr.

According to the Daily Bulletin, it walked, or rather glided, to the vault, reached into the trays, and scooped up a handful of blue diamonds. Depositing them in a concealed pocket, it turned toward the employees who were huddled together in a corner, and——spoke!


(Mechanical Man from 'The Robot Terror' by Melbourne Huff)

“Gentlemen,” it began slowly and in a harsh phonographic tone, “you have received me quite cordially this evening. It is well, for ‘Monarch’ is very irritable and most dangerous. As you can perceive, I am a most unusual person. ‘Monarch’ bids you adieu.”

...“Of course, Inspector,” I pointed out, “this is a most unusual case, but you must admit science has developed many almost unbelievable contrivances within the past several years. Why not a mechanical man who walks and talks?”

Technovelgy from The Robot Terror, by Melbourne Huff.
Published by Scientific Detective Monthly in 1930
Additional resources -

Eventually, the police gain access to the mechanical man's control room:

We gained entrance to Eric’s laboratory through a trap door revealed by an inmate of the asylum. After examining the equipment, we secreted ourselves in a dark corner of the room—the professor and I—while Charles Stanley slipped out to return to the city and bring reinforcements.

"Just before noon, a bald, bespectacled, middle-aged man climbed through a door leading from the broadcast room. After turning on several dim lights on a peculiarly shaped instrument. board a low whirring noise pervaded the room. A television-scanning disc began revolving, and through the screen we saw the iron robot, sitting in an armored car. We later discovered this machine had been concealed in the cellar of an old house, situated near the asylum.

“Drawing my pistol, I handed another to Professor Carlton, and whispered to him to be ready to control the madman. As we prepared to leap a cold voice warned us to “sit still’. I looked around into the muzzle of a large revolver and made out the thin figure of Dr. McMunsey standing near the secret entrance. Carlton and I dropped our weapons at his command. Watching us like an eagle, he kicked our guns out of reach and switched on a light.

“I insist that you note the one canny ability of Eric’s servant”, he said: “Watch him closely”.

“I looked into the screen again. The robot was gliding along my front walk. He lumbered awkwardly up the steps of my home! I prayed the doors were locked. They were, but to no avail. “Monarch” plunged through them as though the house were made of tissue.

“Tense and overwhelmed as I was, I could not bear to think of what might happen to my daughter. I lunged beneath McMunsey’s gun and grasped his legs. As we rolled over, I saw Carlton reach for Eric. A shot was fired, and I heard a groan from Carlton. Then I received a terrific blow on my head, stunning me. When I recovered, my arm was shackled to Carlton’s with my own handcuffs and the doctor was standing above us. Carlton was unconscious, and blood was streaming from his shoulder. Several minutes passed before I could pull myself together. My eyes went back to the screen.

“There was my daughter in full view. She was clinging to a pillow and I could hear her screaming. It was terrible. “Monarch” was standing near the foot of Claire’s bed.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Robot Terror
  More Ideas and Technology by Melbourne Huff
  Tech news articles related to The Robot Terror
  Tech news articles related to works by Melbourne Huff

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