Suspension of Disbelief: A Short History of Robots

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Suspension of Disbelief: A Short History of Robots

Science fiction has a plethora of ideas about what happened in the past and what to expect from the future. Unfortunately, not all of those ideas are exactly plausible in reality. In Suspension of Disbelief, we’ll take a look at the best ideas from sci-fi movies, books, comics and videogames to see where (and if) they intersect with the real world.


The word “robot” doesn’t just refer to human-looking machines, though that’s probably what most people think of when the word is used. A robot is any machine capable of performing actions automatically, and yet humankind has been trying to recreate itself in these mechanized forms since we first started building complex tools. We’ve been building robots for centuries, inching slowly towards recreating ourselves and, in the meantime, we’ve been dreaming about what that might eventually look like, from the seemingly infinite artificial intelligence of droids like C-3PO to the perfect human facsimile of Roy Batty.

Though there are still numerous obstacles ahead of us (the uncanny valley continues to swallow up robots trying to pass themselves off as human), this history shows that the technologies we may take for granted now, like Siri acting like a person with her own interests or a toy robot walking across a living room floor, were also considered insurmountable barriers once.

Click through the gallery to see a short history of how robots began and how far we’ve come to recreating ourselves in machine forms.

Hailing from upstate New York, Cameron Wade is a freelance writer interested in movies, videogames, comic books and more. You can find his work at