(1,851 words)

1. Definition and traditions

Early modern automata were refined mechanical constructions intended to evoke astonishment at their movements, performed apparently without external sources of energy. They often imitated people or animals. Valuable automata were displayed in private or public, with theatrical staging. There was no clear definition of an automaton…

Cite this page
Popplow, Marcus, “Automaton”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 21 March 2018 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321

▲   Back to top   ▲