Produced in 1967 by Philco-Ford Company, this futuristic film made predictions of the future that will be ours in the year 1999. Many of the things shown in this film have indeed come true, such as programmable microwave ovens , flat-screen computer monitors and online shopping. This is a video transfer from an ultra-rare 16mm film.
I run into this guy last year when I payed a visit to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California. He was on exhibit with other robots but Hubot was the one that stuck out to me. He was advertised as “the first home robot that’s a personal companion, educator, entertainer and sentry …and he can talk!”. That sounds like something I would have loved to have this as a kid in the 80’s. Unfortunately the $3495.00 would have made that impossible.
The guts of Hubot contained a proprietary SysCon Computer with 3 Zilog Z80a processors, 128k of ram, slide out/detachable keyboard, a 5-1/4” disk drive and a built in 12” b/w monitor that would display a face that would move when it talked. There was also a Voice Synthesizer with a 1200 word vocabulary and an “Obstacle Sensing Processor” collar to detect objects that were in its way.
Here’s a quick run down of his features
A personal computer running CP/M 2.2 and “Hucomm Instruction Language”
He could entertain with AM/FM radio cassette deck.
The monitor could also be used to watch tv programs.
There is a built in Atari 2600 that you play using the monitor
There was a voice option that included a Microphone so he would understand voice commands.
Unfortunately sales of Hubot were poor, from what I read approximately 75 were sold, so developments of proposed options were never completed. These options included:
Obstacle Avoidance Package (as I understand it if Hubot detected an obstacle it would stop an await instructions. This package would have it figure out how to get around it by itself)
Burglar and Fire Alarm
Arm and Hand
Vacuum Cleaner Attachment
Graphic Path planning on the Monitor
Battery level detector and self-recharging (Hubot would detect if it was low on power and return to its charging base)
Here’s a demo from youtube with Hubot in action.
I’ll leave you with one last picture. Here’s a kid playing Atari on Hubot maybe 3D Tic-Tac-Toe or Yars Revenge and you may also notice a HERO 1 from Heathkit in the background
Always a big fan of people’s visions of the future, especially people form the past wondering what today will look like. This vision, I don’t think is too far off. NYC has lots of buildings and flights coming in and out all day long. Sure not a whole lot of trains above the ground, but still we can replace that with all the cars instead.