45 years later, George the Robot and Tony Sale
One of the UK’s earliest humanoid robots has been unearthed after spending 45 years stored in a garage. The robot’s creator, Tony Sale, talks about how George came about.
Rationing during and after World War II gave rise to the make do and mend ethos that saw many people exercise their ingenuity to feed and clothe themselves.
Some, such as Tony Sale, took the scavenging attitude far beyond simply unravelling woollen socks to help patch a pullover.
In 1950 Mr Sale, then aged 19, created a robot named George out of scrap metal that came from a crashed Wellington bomber.
Pilot Officer Sale, as he was then, was stationed at RAF Debden where he was employed to teach pilots how to use radar…
Remarkably, George was not the first robot that Mr Sale had built. In fact, he was the fifth incarnation of a mechanical man that the young electronics wizard had put together.
Creating any kind of working robot in the early 1950s was an incredible feat, especially as Mr Sale was under 20 at the time. The version he produced then has a claim to be among the earliest humanoid robots built in the UK…
“He went in to my garage and stayed there for 45 years,” said Mr Sale.
It was there he stayed until Mr Sale got a call from researchers putting together the BBC TV programme Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention. At their prompting, Mr Sale dug George out to see what condition he was in,
“It was still standing in the garage,” he said. “I had a fair degree of confidence that he would work again.”
“I put some oil on the bearings, added a couple of new lithium batteries, switched him on and away he went,” said Mr Sale.
Bravo! My kind of geek.