8-foot robot Cygan from 1950s auctioned for $27,000

(Credit: Christie's)

Ah, 1950s robots. They seemed to usher in an era of automatons fulfilling our every whim and desire. Decades later, science fiction has yet to deliver.

But that hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from bidding up the price of this 8-foot-tall droid from the era to a whopping 17,500 pounds ($27,660) at a recent auction by Christie’s.

Cygan was made in Italy in 1957 by a certain Ing Fiorito, and then brought to the UK. It could “walk” by shuffling its wheeled feet forward or backward, move its head and arms, and even respond to basic voice commands.

According to archival footage aired by the BBC in the clip below, Cygan was controlled by shortwave radio and had 300,000 parts, 170 valves, 13 electric motors, and a 28-volt battery. An RC hobbyist article posted by the auction house says it had a remote-control range of 1 mile, and could move at up to 10 feet per minute.

Created as a domestic helper, the 1-ton automaton could also crush cans and even dance with a partner, provided he or she stepped on its huge feet.

The bubbly narrator in the clip also suggests Cygan could be used for babysitting, though one wonders if that would have been a good idea.

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