Their sister is a musician.

A young slim girl, the musician is regarded as the most
beautiful automaton in the world, together with the
dulcimer player of Kintzing (National School of
Engineering and Technology in Paris). She plays on a
type of organ with two stops of flutes, an independent
instrument (different to modern automata, where the
instrument plays and the fingers only follow the keys).
You can see her breathing, how she turns her head
from side to side, looking left, then right, how she
lowers and raises her eyes, leans forward and
straightens up once more. She emphasises her
movements when she plays and finishes with a curtsey.

Together with her brothers, she too is a well-travelled

The three Jaquet-Droz automata have been nomadic
over a long period of time, guests of all the courts of
Europe, visiting Paris, Brussels, London, Kazan
(Russia), Madrid, Austria, Germany and Denmark. In
1906, the Neuchâtel Society of History and Archaeology
acquired them for 75,000 gold francs and bestowed
them to the Neuchâtel Museum of Art and History,
where they have become masterpieces. They can be
recognition that would come as a result!

Behold the writer, the drawer and the musician. They are most certainly Neuchâtel’s
most famous celebrities.

How advanced the writer is for his age! This three-year-old child sitting on a Louis-XV-
style stool leans his left hand on a small mahogany table and writes with a goose feather
quill in his right. While his eyes follow his movements, the quill draws full and loose
letters. The writer can write any text that does not exceed forty letters or signs. When
Original orientation
reveals the name
Jacquet Droz.
Writing shown in the
quiz photo as been
The Jaquet Droz Automata
Quiz #412 Results
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Answers to Quiz #412 - September 22, 2013
1. Who created this doll?
2. Why is it unusual?
3.  What is its modern day counterpart?
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!-- Start Quantcast tag -->
Congratulations to Our Winners

Janice M. Sellers                Arthur Hartwell
Donna Jolley                Nancy Nalle Mackenzie
Margaret Paxton                Tynan Peterson
Winnifred Evans                Carol Farrant
Mike Dalton                Jim Kiser
Tom Collins                Nelsen Spickard
Cynthia Costigan                Dennis Brann
Jane Himmel                Kelly Fetherlin
Collier Smith                Marcelle Comeau
Dennis Brann

Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
Team Fletcher
Comments from Our Readers
Skippy Scribbles and Susie Scribbles by the Wonderama Toy Company.
Arthur Hartwell
I had a very difficult time finding this!!  I hope I got the right one because all the
pictures I found had the doll writing with his right hand, yet this picture has him
writing left handed.  Maybe he is also the first ambidextrous doll?
Nancy Nalle Mackenzie
N.B.  Actually I reversed the picture so that it would not be picked up by Tineye.  If
you looked more closely, you'd notice that the writing on the paper says "Jacquet
Droz" in reverse.  - Q. Gen.
With each photo you post, there is an immediate reaction when I first look at the
photo.  Sometimes that reaction leads straight to the answer.  More often than not, it
doesnt.  This time I thought the face looked a lot like my childhood doll which stands
in the corner of my living room.  I may be getting along in years, but Im not old
enough for my doll to be related.  This mechanical doll was built by Jaquet-Droz, his
son Henri-Louis and Jean-Frederic Leschot between 1768 and 1774.  Why is it
unusual?  Well, the very fact that it still exists and works would seem unusual to me.  
The fact that it is actually doing what it appears to be doing is pretty amazing, too.  
There really is ink in the inkwell to the right of the tablet (in this reversed photo).  

It, and others like it, have been called distant ancestors of the modern computer.  
That description doesn't work for me.  The doll is not computing anything.  It is just
doing what it has been instructed to do. I would liken it to an early robot, one that
doesn't have to make decisions based on variables.
Carol Farrant
N.B.  I beg to disagree!  It is a distant ancestor of the analog computer!  That's how
computers started, as mechanical gears and levers that could be programmed to do
calculations.  A computer doesn't think on its own, it does what it is told to do, only
much faster and more efficiently than you can.  -Q. Gen.
That video was much better than any I watched before on the subject, but it doesn’t
change my position.  I understand everything you’ve said.  I’m reminded of a large,
old, mechanical adding machine I once used.  It was gears and levers that performed
calculations based on which keys I pressed.  It made a lot of noise, but the one thing
it did was perform a calculation.  Assuming the gears, levers and key-pressing fingers
were all functioning properly, it always came up with the same answer it was
programmed to provide.  Without having to change any parts, the machine always
knew that 1+3=4 because it had previously been told by way of how it was
manufactured that that was the answer.  Even an abacus has all of the parts in place
to perform the same calculation.

The doll is a different story.  Yes it is programmable.  But in order for it to perform a
second action one has to physically replace parts before the second action can take
place.  For it to go back and perform the original movement, parts once again have to
be replaced.  It calculates or computes nothing.

I’m stuck on the definition of a computer being something that computes rather than
something that just provides movement.  The doll is lovely, whatever anyone chooses
to call it.
What about a machine that computes motion?  Is that a computer? - Q. Gen.
This week quiz easy once  I was able to translate writing. I flipped and rotated the
image so as to translate the writing.
Mike Dalton
the fact that the fingers had exceptional wear led me from a doll to a mechanical
display. This line of searching for moving dolls or manniquins let to the answer.
Jim Kiser
I think it's way cool how you noticed the wear on the fingers of the doll. While you
were at it, did you also notice that the doll in the picture is left handed but the ones
you probably ran across are right handed?  You might also note what the doll is
writing as a way to explain the difference in handedness. - Q. Gen.
Thanks for the videoclip.  Yes programmable computer seems like a better choice.  
But now I want a Susie Scriibbles! I trust you saw the movie, "Hugo"? What a delight.
Nelsen Spickard
The DVD about this guy and his androids must be amazing!!  The trailer is
fascinating! The Terminator would be a future example, and the computer driven
robots as in the auto industry would perhaps be modern-day equivalents!
Dennis Brann
Certainly the automata of the 18th century were precursors of today’s computers, but
they were meant as toys rather than as tools.

Thanks for the link to Chonday.  Have you seen this one:
com/Videos/seorcroatia1?  I’ve been to Zadar and spent an evening at the sea organ.  
The solar installation wasn’t there then.  Looks interesting.
Margaret Paxton
American Joe Jones (1934-1993) built an large orchestra-like music machine which
performed during daylight hours by solar power.

A cuckoo clock is an automata.
Kelly Fetherlin
I must admit another serendipity moment.  Another e-mail friend sent me the video so
there fore I didn’t do a lot of research to find the answer.  Is that cheating???

It is very cool.
Winnifred Evans
The reason we thought the answer could be Kirsi Phyhonen & Audrey Marney was
because of the photo with one of them with the feather pen - so much like the
mechanical doll by Pierre Jaquet-Droz. Fun and more fun!!!!!!!!! We always learn
something with each one of the fabulous weekly quizzes!!!!!!!!!!
Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
Team Fletcher
So aside from suggesting a printer, a robot, and a modern day art form, I must
suggest something that is used in advertisement, but is not what is being advertised....
like the Energizer Bunny?
Nelsen Spickard
I had never heard of these old humoid robots. This is really incredible and an excellent
example of the intelligence of its creators! Talk about brain power! I would say the
modern day counterpart is "Atlas"; a humanoid robot. :)
Cynthia Costigan
The DVD about this guy and his androids must be amazing!!  The trailer is
fascinating! The Terminator would be a future example, and the computer driven
robots as in the auto industry would perhaps be modern-day equivalents!
Dennis Brann
I didn't include an explanation of how I solved it with my response but you're right - I
noticed the writing, flipped the image so I was able to read it once I zoomed in and
searched on the name Jacquet Droz.

Another very nice quiz this week. Absolutely amazing, would love to see them
working for real!
Marcell Comeau
1. Jaquet Droz, an 18th century Swiss watchmaker.
2. It is an automaton designed
to dip its pen in an inkwell and write
via a series of miniature cams.
3.  The programmable computer.
Modern Day Automata submitted by the Quizmasters
In asking the third question, about the modern-day counterpart of the Jacquet Droz
automata, I had the "programmable computer" in mind.  The Quizmasters, out to break
the mold, submitted many interesting alternative answers:
The modern day counterpart to these mechanical dolls are Kirsi Phyhonen & Audrey
Marney who are live models who act like mechanical dolls; they are photographed by
Tim Walker. AMAZING!!!!!!!!

Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
Team Fletcher
How Collier and Jim Solved the Puzzle
I enlarged the writing on the card, flipped it L-R, and rotated it 180
degrees.It is then legible as:

"Les automates/Jaquet Droz/a neuchatel"

This translated as "The automata/Jaquet Droz/at neuchatel', so I
Googled "Jaquet Droz automata" and your "doll" appeared right away.

Collier Smith

The fact that the fingers had exceptional wear led me from a doll to a
mechanical display. This line of searching for moving dolls or
mannequins let to the answer.

Jim Kiser
Click to see Video
Modern-day automata include the works of Paul Spooner, Keith Newstead and Rob
Higgs [and others] on display at the Caberet Mechanical Theatre in Greenwich,, UK,
and Kimberly Park in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK. (See

Margaret Paxton
Paul Spooner
The Many Moods
of a Cat Fetish
Keith Newstead
Be Nice to Bees
Pablo Lavezzari
The Jaquet-Droz automata, created
between 1768 and 1774 by Pierre
Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis and
Jean-Frédéric Leschot, are not only
wonders of precision, to be admired as
masterpieces. These automata from
La-Chaux-de-Fonds show the genius of a
region, its creativity, its expertise, its
future in the watch-making industry and
micro technologies and the international
he changes line and dips the quill into the inkpot, his
facial expression follows his movements.

The draftsman is even more spectacular than the writer,
although his mechanism is less complicated. Three
different sets of cams, dating from construction, allow
the child to produce four drawings because the portrait
of Louis XV and “My Pooch” are on the same cams.
admired in action on the first Sunday of every month at 2p.m., 3p.m. and 4p.m. or by
pre-arrangement for groups.
See also:

Like Clockwork: Incredible 18th Century Swiss Automatons

Jaquet Droz “The Writer” Automata: Awesome Antique Android

Jaquet Droz Automatons...(many photos)

DVD Trailer