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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 II Photo: 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 Lies that Powered the Invention of Pong

A fake contract masked a design exercise–and started an industry

4 min read
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Pong arcade game in yellow cabinet containing black and white TV display, two knobs are labeled Player 1 and Player 2, Atari logo visible.
Roger Garfield/Alamy

In 1971 video games were played in computer science laboratories when the professors were not looking—and in very few other places. In 1973 millions of people in the United States and millions of others around the world had seen at least one video game in action. That game was Pong.

Two electrical engineers were responsible for putting this game in the hands of the public—Nolan Bushnell and Allan Alcorn, both of whom, with Ted Dabney, started Atari Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif. Mr. Bushnell told Mr. Alcorn that Atari had a contract from General Electric Co. to design a consumer product. Mr. Bushnell suggested a Ping-Pong game with a ball, two paddles, and a score, that could be played on a television.

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