Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Latest By

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

"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Robot Tennis Player  
  A purely mechanical, autonomous foe on the court.  

As far as I know, the first instance of a tennis-playing robot in science fiction. But not the first actual tennis-playing robot - see below!

THE red tennis robot scooted desperately across the court, its four wide-set wheels squealing. For a moment, Robert's hard-hit passing shot seemed to have scored. Then, at the last instant, the robot whipped around its single racketequipped arm. Robert sprawled headlong in a futile lunge at the return.

"Game and set to Red Three," announced the referee box from its high station above the net.

"Ah, shut up!" growled Robert, and flung down his racket for one of the white serving robots to retrieve.

"Yes, Robert," agreed the voice. "Will Robert continue to play?" Interpreting the man's savage mumble as a negative, it told his opponent, "Return to your stall, Red Three!"

Technovelgy from Manners of the Age, by H.B. Fyfe.
Published by Galaxy in 1952
Additional resources -

Feel like you're being outclassed? Adjustments are possible:

In a few moments, the major-domo [Blue One] arrived.

"Did Robert enjoy the tennis?" it inquired politely.

"I did not!" snapped the man. "Red Three won — and by too big a score. Have it geared down a few feet per second."

"Yes, Robert."

Modern Mechanix offered delighted robotics enthusiasts with this story in 1934; as you see, the robot is a wily server of tennis balls, if not a returner of tennis balls.

(Actual tennis robot circa 1934)

PITTING their skill against the strokes of a mechanical tennis player in a recent exhibition, St. Louis racquet stars found themselves deluged by a barrage of deceptive lobs and smashing serves which drove them to the base line and forced them to net several of their returns.

The invention of Edward Serrano, winner of the St. Louis district doubles crown in 1932, the robot will do practically anything the human tennis player can do except return the ball. Mounted on a movable, two-wheeled frame, the iron body of the machine is crowned by a bucket-like head which contains sixty balls. A striking bat, powered by a small electric motor, serves, lobs or drives the balls as they are fed automatically from the hopper into a dish-like receptacle.

(Inventor and tennis robot circa 1934)

Various adjustments permit a wide latitude of strokes. Hitting toward the top of the striking surface results in a top-spin drive; hitting toward the bottom produces an under-cut stroke. When the robot is called upon to lob it is adjusted backward until its “head” forms an acute angle with the ground, much like the wartime trench mortars. The serve is executed merely by slowing up the drive.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Manners of the Age
  More Ideas and Technology by H.B. Fyfe
  Tech news articles related to Manners of the Age
  Tech news articles related to works by H.B. Fyfe

Robot Tennis Player-related news articles:
  - ESTHER Tennis Robot V. Fact (1934) And Fiction (1952)

Articles related to Robotics
AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung

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 Science Fiction Invention Timeline, or see what's New.





Science Fiction Timeline
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Science Fiction in the News

Ulm Sleep Pods For The Homeless
'The lid lifted and she crawled inside...'

Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'

More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'

Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.