The World's Fair and Technology: 8 Amazing Highlights

Ahead of next month's 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, we explore tech innovations--from the telephone to touchscreens--that premiered during the Fair's sprawling 159-year history

Humanoid Robots

Say hello to Elektro the Moto-Man, Westinghouse's 7-foot-tall, cigarette-smoking, balloon-blowing, record-playing "automaton" built for the 1939 New York World's Fair. His 700-word speaking vocabulary included conversation starters like "my brain is bigger than yours" and "if you use me well I can be your slave." Watch Elektro in action.

Elektro wasn't the first humanoid robot, but he became part of the national psyche as he toured North America to promote Westinghouse. He was joined by a mechanical dog companion called Sparko, the precursor to ideas like Sony's Aibo robot. As for the most popular humanoid robot today? Arguably, that's Honda's ASIMO, which made one of its first appearances at World Expo 2005 in Japan.

Image credits: Cybernetic Zoo

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