The recent influx of home assistants proves that everything old is new again. If we told you about a life-sized robot that was self-charging, had a map of your home for navigation, and responded to voice commands, you’d assume we were going to point you to a Kickstarter or a new product release. Instead, we will point you to this post about a robot marketed in 1985.
You have to put all this in context. In 1985 the personal computer was practically a solution in search of a problem. Back then it was wildly popular to predict that every home would one day have a computer. But we weren’t quite sure what they were going to be doing with it. Home finance, games, and storing recipes were all popular guesses. A few far-sighted folks realized that music, photos, and even video might one day be major selling points. Everyone wanted a piece of this market but no one really understood what the market would look like.
The post chronicles a range of home robots from decade centered on 1980. The Gemini was by far the most impressive of the lot, although at $9,000 they were not selling. Keep in mind, that’s about $20,000 today. Even at a reduced price, only about 60 rolled into homes. However, there were other contenders such as Bushnell’s TOPO, Heathkit’s HERO, the RB5X, and even one from Nintendo.
Interestingly, the plans for the Gemini are available online. We’d love to hear from someone who’s built a modern version. If you like these old robots, don’t forget the old robot site. Of course, these could have been the mere first steps in the robot race’s plan for world domination.