Wiki article on this topic: An automaton is a self-operating machine, or a machine or control mechanism designed to automatically follow a predetermined sequence of operations, or respond to predetermined instructions. Some automata, such as bellstrikers in mechanical clocks, are designed to give the illusion to the casual observer that they are operating under their own power.
The word "automaton" is the latinization of the Greek αὐτόματον , automaton, "acting of one's own will". This word was first used by Homer to describe automatic door opening, or automatic movement of wheeled tripods. It is more often used to describe non-electronic moving machines, especially those that have been made to resemble human or animal actions, such as the jacks on old public striking clocks, or the cuckoo and any other animated figures on a cuckoo clock.
There are many examples of automata in Greek mythology: Hephaestus created automata for his workshop; Talos was an artificial man of bronze; Daedalus used quicksilver to install voice in his moving statues; King Alkinous of the Phaiakians employed gold and silver watchdogs.
The automata in the Hellenistic world were intended as tools, toys, religious idols, or prototypes for demonstrating basic scientific principles. Numerous water powered automata were built by Ktesibios, a Greek inventor and the first head of the Great Library of Alexandria, for example he "used water to sound a whistle and make a model owl move. He had invented the world's first "cuckoo" clock". This tradition continued in Alexandria with inventors such as the Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria , whose writings on hydraulics, pneumatics, and mechanics described siphons, a fire engine, a water organ, the aeolipile, and a programmable cart.
Complex mechanical devices are known to have existed in Hellenistic Greece, though the only surviving example is the Antikythera mechanism, the earliest known analog computer. It is thought to have come originally from Rhodes, where there was apparently a tradition of mechanical engineering; the island was renowned for its automata; to quote Pindar's seventh Olympic Ode:
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