"It was [H.G. Wells'] adolescent fiction, his imaginative stories, that live forever - and yet are not acknowledged in literature classes as being great literature. So to hell with the academics!"
Both Niven and Pournelle are Heinlein fans; they may well have remembered this one from RAH novels.
For the earliest example of this piece of technovelgy, see cider press, from Double Star, by Robert Heinlein.
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'Courier Commons' By Tomorrow Lab, From Karl Schroeder (and Bruce Sterling?)
'The pokkecon rang again. *The coffee’s for him?* Tsuyoshi said.'
Terrifying Robotic Apple Harvester
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant.'
Jetson-Style Clockwork Robot Nail Salon Coming To Target Near You
The Jetsons imagined so much future.
Mechanical Horse Sculpture Gallops In Place
'Rod placed the brain inside the panel... the horse raised its head, wiggled its ears, blinked twice, gave a tentative whinny.'
'Make Sunsets' Tweaks Climate By Atmospheric Alteration
'Pina2bo would have to operate full blast for many years to put as much SO2 into the stratosphere as its namesake had done in a few minutes.'
Eviation Alice Electric Plane First Flight
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'
Hotels Turn To Robots As Human Workers Regroup
'Chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'
Changesite Mineral To Be Mined On Moon By China
'But then... not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon.'
Tongue-Controlled Tong Wearable Mouth Computer
'Griff found the white and pink map distracting and switched it off using his tongue mouse.'
Is It Better To Be Short?
'He was one of the smaller, energy-saving new breed...'
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