Retrofuturist Flashback: Surgical Robot, 1912


Nurse! Photo by Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

Robotic surgery has come a long way in recent years -- and it's certainly come a long ways since this Aug. 18, 1912 cover from France's Le Petit Journal. The humanoid machine you see is "Mademoiselle Claire, an automaton built by Robert Herdner, used by him at l'Hopital Bretonneau to hand out surgical instruments from trolley."

It's more a 1912 contemplation on what the future might contain, rather than an insight into standard Parisian surgical practices of the day.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.