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The 1961 Mobot Mark II Had All the Moves

Billed as a “Replacement for Man,” the Hughes Mobot combined strength with a delicate touch

2 min read
photo of woman posing with Mobot Mark II
Photo: J. R. EyERman/ThE LIFE PIcTuRE coLLEcTIon/GETTy ImaGEs

photo of woman posing with Mobot Mark IIPhoto: J. R. Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In the late 1950s, Sandia Laboratory was looking for a way to handle radioactive materials without putting humans in danger. The answer was the Mobot—short for either “remote robot” or “mobile robot”—a remotely operated system designed by Hughes Aircraft Co. in 1959 that offered a unique and effective combination of strength and dexterity.

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The Unsung Inventor Who Chased the LED Rainbow

LEDs came only in shades of red—until George Craford expanded the palette

10 min read
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Man  with grey hair wearing dress shirt and tie standing in front of an LED stoplight and holding a panel with yellow and red LEDs glowing
DarkBlue2

Walk through half a football field’s worth of low partitions, filing cabinets, and desks. Note the curved mirrors hanging from the ceiling, the better to view the maze of engineers, technicians, and support staff of the development laboratory. Shrug when you spot the plastic taped over a few of the mirrors to obstruct that view.

Go to the heart of this labyrinth and there find M. George Craford, R&D manager for the optoelectronics division of Hewlett-Packard Co., San Jose, Calif. Sitting in his shirtsleeves at an industrial beige metal desk piled with papers, amid dented bookcases, gym bag in the corner, he does not look like anybody’s definition of a star engineer.

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